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Omega-3 may minimise damaging effects of junk food on brain: Research review

By Nathan Gray+

17-May-2013

Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could help to minimise the debilitating effects that high junk food consumption has on the brain, according to a new review of more than 180 research papers.

The analysis, published in the British journal of Nutrition, considers data from 185 research papers to assess whether there was sufficient data available to back up recent suggestions that omega-3s has a role to play in aiding weight loss and preventing some of the suggested damaging effects of a high-fat diet.

The UK-based research team noted that research performed in the last decade has suggested that high-fat diets could disrupt neurogenesis (a process that generates new nerve cells) - but a diet rich in omega-3s has been suggested to prevent these negative effects by stimulating the area of the brain that control feeding, learning and memory.

However the research team, led by Dr Lucy Pickavance from the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease at the University of Liverpool, found that omega-3 does not have the suggested direct impact on the these brain processes, but is likely to play a significant role in stalling refined sugars and saturated fats' ability to inhibit the brain's control on the body's intake of food.

"Fish oils don't appear to have a direct impact on weight loss, but they may take the brakes off the detrimental effects of some of the processes triggered in the brain by high-fat diets," said Pickavance.

"They seem to mimic the effects of calorie restrictive diets and including more oily fish or fish oil supplements in our diets could certainly be a positive step forward for those wanting to improve their general health."

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