New research findings show that omega-3 fats in your diet may protect your brain cells. It works by preventing the misfolding of a protein resulting from a gene mutation in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Huntington's.
Researchers developed a cell model with a mutation of the Ataxin-1 gene, which induces the misfolding of the protein. These deformed proteins cannot be properly processed by the cell machinery, resulting in tangled clumps of toxic protein that eventually kill the cell. But the omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) protects cells from this defect.
The same researchers discovered earlier that neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a naturally occurring molecule in the human brain that is derived from DHA, also promotes brain cell survival. NPD1 is capable of rescuing the dying cells with the pathological type of Ataxin-1, keeping their integrity intact.