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Eating fish can be good for your brain, but did you know that it could also help protect against hearing loss? Find out how diet can help your hearing!


Understanding Fish and Hearing Loss

A new study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts found that women who had 2 or more servings of fish every week had experienced fewer incidences of hearing loss. Led by Dr. Sharon G. Curhan, the study specifically examined the effects of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which were directly related to lower risks of hearing loss.

There were several kinds of fish that decreased the risk of hearing loss, including salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. In addition to fresh and canned foods, many grocery stores carry omega-3 fatty acid pill supplements. The use of a supplement may make it easier (and perhaps more cost-effective) to get your recommended dose.

Although consuming excessive amounts of fish may put you at risk for mercury poisoning and is especially dangerous for women who are pregnant, eating in moderation can provide a variety of health benefits.

Lowering the Risks Of Hearing Loss with Fish

The aforementioned Brigham and Women’s study had over 65,000 women and spanned from 1991 to 2009. The women involved in the study, aged 25 to 42, were required to fill out a series of questionnaires, in which they reported any instances of hearing loss.

For women that had two or more servings of fish, their risk of developing hearing loss was lower by 20%, relative to women that ate very little or no fish, who was at a comparatively higher risk for hearing loss.

Shellfish, too, were shown to decrease the risk of hearing loss, as foods such as shrimp, lobsters and scallops are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids, as cited above, are crucial to essential processes in our bodies, including blood clotting and protection against heart disease.

Exploring the Relationship Between Coffee and Tinnitus: Hearing Loss 

Similar results have recently been found in another common food item: coffee.

This new study, which is also taken from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, shows that women who drank four and a half to six cups of coffee a day reported having a marked decrease in instances of tinnitus, a condition that causes a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears.

For coffee drinkers, tinnitus occurred at a rate that was 15% lower than women who drank less than one and a half cups daily. The effects of coffee seemed to be in place regardless of the women’s age differences sampled (the ages of the subjects ranged from 30 to 44).

Omega-3s Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: A Promising Correlation

More research needs to be done regarding the exact mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids help prevent hearing loss. It is currently postulated that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may increase blood flow to the cochlea, a part of the ear that is vital for healthy hearing. Medical conditions like obesity can limit blood flow to the cochlea, leading to an increased risk for hearing loss.

Regardless of how these fatty acids may work in preventing hearing loss, it’s safe to say that fish can be a tasty way to keep your hearing safe!

by Aaron Rodriques, Updated in 2021