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Protect your brain today

Jun. 25, 2013 @ 11:20 PM

"If your heart and your brain aren't connected, aren't working together harmoniously, well, you're just hopping through life on one leg," said novelist Tom Robbins. And we say thumbs up to that! It turns out heart-harming habits like smoking and conditions like diabetes and high LDL cholesterol don't just raise the risk for future cardiovascular problems, they dull your brain TODAY, even if you're still pretty young. (Is that why cowgirls get the blues?)

Folks 35-44 who are at the most risk for heart attack (say, smokers with sky-high LDL or those with diabetes) do 50 percent worse on tests of memory and mental skill than their heart-healthy peers.

Fortunately, there's a remedy that delivers a double dose of good news to your brain and body: omega-3 DHA. This fatty acid, found in salmon, ocean trout and anchovies or derived from the ALA omega-3 in walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, may boost mental powers by changing how memory cells in the hippocampus talk to one another. And it's heart-loving: Two servings of DHA-packed fish a week can cut your chance of dying from a heart attack by 30 percent or more.

Our recommendation? Everyone 18 and older, listen up! Stop smoking; get a daily workout of 30 minutes or more; dodge saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sugar syrups and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole; enjoy at least two servings of fish a week; take 900 IU of DHA omega-3 from algal oil; and maybe add 420 mg purified omega-7. You'll say, "Thanks for the memories!"

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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