There’s a trend of fortifying foods with the omega-3 DHA. One of the reasons nutrition experts recommend eating fish twice a week is that fish is a good source of docosahexaenoic acide (DHA), an omega-3 fat that has heart-healthy benefits. Preliminary studies suggest that DHA may help boost brain power, too.
It makes sense: DHA comprises much of the cell membranes in our brains. And food producers are taking the concept and running with it–they’re adding DHA to foods like yogurt, soy milk, and eggs, then marketing them with “smart” slogans. But do these products really maximize mental performance?
Some research links higher intakes of DHA with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the congnitive decline that prcedes it. In a 2003 study in the Archives of Neurology, people age 65 and up who ate at least one DHA-rich fish meal per week had a 60% reduced risk of Alzehimer’s. And growing evidence suggests DHA supplementation during pregnancy and early infancy may result in superior congnitive performance of the child. In June 2007, a randomized clinical trial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that 9-month-old babies of mothers who had eaten DHA-fortified cereal bars (about 200 mg of DHA per day) during the last trimester of their pregnancies demonstrated better problem-solving skills than did babies whose mothers had consumed placebo cereal bars.