July 24, 2009

Sea food = ‘see’ food for elderly

U.S. researchers suggest diets high in omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent blindness linked to aging.

A report, published in the American Journal of Pathology, finds a high omega-3 fatty acid diet not only slows the progression of macular degeneration -- retinal damage that is a leading cause blindness among the elderly -- but may also contribute to protection against this disease.

Dr. Chi-Chao Chan of the National Eye Institute in Bethesda, Md., examined the direct effect of omega-3 fatty acids on a mouse model of macular degeneration and found a diet with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids resulted in slower lesion progression -- with improvement in some lesions.

Chan says the mice with slower disease progression had lower levels of inflammatory molecules and higher levels of anti-inflammatory molecules, which may explain the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in high levels in cold water seafood -- especially oily fish such as herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines.