The Budget-Friendly Way to Avoid Alzheimer’s

Eat fish. Really? Fish? Yes. Does it have to be salmon? No. But it has to be … fish? Yes. So saith Science.

“There wasn’t one type of fish that was the best,” Raji told me by phone, probably while eating fish. “All that mattered was the method of preparation.” Fried fish had a unique dearth of benefits to the human brain. “If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus — the big memory and learning center — is 14 percent larger than in people who don’t eat fish that frequently. 14 percent. That has implications for reducing Alzheimer’s risk,” Raji said. “If you have a stronger hippocampus, your risk of Alzheimer’s is going to go down.” “In the orbital frontal cortex, which controls executive function, it’s a solid 4 percent,” Raji said. “I don’t know of any drug or supplement that’s been shown to do that.” … Up to half of cases of Alzheimer’s disease “are potentially attributable” to seven modifiable risk factors: diabetes, midlife high blood pressure, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment, and physical inactivity. Minimal inroads in those areas, they say, could result in millions fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.

We talk a lot around these parts about how to, and much to, save for retirement. So much will depend, though, on whether one and/or one’s partner is healthy enough to enjoy one’s last years — especially outside of that crooked home we saw on “60 Minutes.” Plan for the future: eat fish. It won’t bankrupt you, or at least, it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to find yourself a full-on fishmonger. Lots of yummy fish comes in cans, and bottles, and cute little tins. Some of it is super affordable! Like: + Mackerel + Blue fish + Sardines + Tuna (max out at 2 cans per week, tops, lest we all die babbling from mercury poison) + Anchovies + Tilapia (called by this Metafilter thread the “skinless chicken breast of the sea”) + Char + Grouper + Sole + Catfish.

Here’s one guide to eating “cheap, poison-free fish,” courtesy of Men’s Fitness. Sample quote:

If you’re strapped for cash, try the drum fish. “It’s small, and you can get a whole fish that ranges from four to nine pounds. It’s delicious off the grill. You can pan-sear it and doesn’t need a lot done to it,” he says.

Another list of tips for eating quality seafood on a budget suggests eating small portions, because some is still better than none (especially mixed into hearty dishes like chowder), and shopping at Asian groceries. Of course, Science doesn’t have all the answers. They can’t really explain what’s so magical about aquatic life, or even whether the benefits aren’t in the fish and merely alongside them somehow. For instance:

people who ate fish might also eat more tartar sauce, and it might actually be that tartar sauce was responsible here. Though that’s unlikely.

Ha! So maybe eat tartar sauce too, just in case.