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Omega-3 may be good for your mood

Having salmon for dinner is not just for your heart, it may also improve your disposition, according to a University of Pittsburgh study. It found that omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in fatty fish like salmon, seem to affect areas of the brain associated with emotion.

Dr. Sarah M. Conklin presented the findings in Budapest, Hungary at the American Psychosomatic Society’s annual meeting. The team previously observed that people with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were more apt to have a negative outlook and to be more impulsive, while those with higher levels typically were more agreeable and less likely to exhibit a sour mood.

In their latest study, Conklin and colleagues set out to see whether the volume of grey matter in the brain, especially in areas related to mood, was proportionally related to the amount of omega-3 fatty acid consumed.

They asked 55 healthy adults about their average intake of omega-3 fatty acids and used MRI brain scans to determine grey matter volume. As the researchers theorised, the higher the intake of omega-3 the larger were the volumes of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with mood and regulation of emotion.

While these findings hint that omega-3 may contribute to structural improvement in areas of the brain related to emotion – the same areas where grey matter is reduced in people with mood disorders such as depression – further studies are needed to determine whether eating fish actually causes changes in the brain, the researchers note.

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