Eating salmon can boost hearing, says study

Eating seafood high in Omega-3 such as salmon can dramatically reduce your chances of acquiring serious hearing issues in later life, an intriguing new study has uncovered.

Omega-3 acids are known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The study, examining over 100,000 individuals in the United Kingdom, found an inverse relationship between blood DHA levels and hearing difficulties. It appears that people aged between 40 and 69 with higher DHA levels experienced 8-20% less age-related hearing issues than those with lower DHA levels. Essentially the more DHA present in the blood, the better the hearing ability appeared to be. These people were also 11% less likely to say they had difficulty following conversations when there is background noise.

Michael I. McBurney, PhD, a leading scientist in the field of fatty acid research, said: “Higher DHA levels have previously been found to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease, cognitive impairment, and death.

“Our study extends these findings to suggest a role for DHA in maintaining auditory function and helping reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss.”

The team is based at the University of Guelph in Canada and is convinced its findings add to a mounting body of evidence of the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA in particular.

They said omega-3s may help to protect the health of cells in the inner ear or alleviate inflammatory responses to loud noises, chemicals, or infections.

Previous studies conducted in older adults and in animals have also suggested that higher omega-3 levels are inversely related to, and may protect against, age-related hearing loss.

Dr. McBurney is not only a senior scientist with the Fatty Acid Research Institute but is also adjunct professor at both the University of Guelph and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

He presented these latest findings at Nutrition 2023 – the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

Salmon – farmed and wild caught – along with other oily fish such as mackerel, herring and sardines, are particularly high in Omega-3.

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