In an article published in the journal Stroke, researchers at Université Laval Quebec report that the administration of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which occurs in fish oil, reduces damage caused by stroke in an animal model.*
The team gave male mice a diet supplemented with DHA, a diet deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, or a control diet for three months. Stroke was induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion, and the size of the damaged areas was assessed. Blood samples were analyzed for markers of inflammation and other factors.
Mice that were treated with DHA had areas of ischemic damage that were 25% smaller and higher levels of a molecule that prevents programmed cell death compared with the other groups. The DHA-treated animals also had lower levels of the inflammatory markers COX-2 and interleukin-1, as well as a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid levels.
Editor’s Note: Co-author Frédéric Calon observed that “Since DHA is readily available, inexpensive, and reduces the risk of a number of health problems without causing significant side effects, the risk:benefit ratio tends to favor the regular consumption of fish or DHA.”