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The life’s DHA Index of Brain Health recently evaluated the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia on 21 brain health indicators in areas like physical health, diet, mental health and social well-being. Some of these indictors included time spent sleeping, smoking, education state rankings and consumption of DHA-fortified foods such as fish. This index is the first comprehensive state measure of the nation’s brain health.

According to the index, the nation’s top ten states with the highest brain health, listed from first to tenth are: the District of Columbia, Maryland, Washington state, Vermont, Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire. The five states with the lowest brain health rankings starting with the worst are: Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee.

D.C., ranked #1, has one of the highest percentages of people who read for personal interest which helps brain health and also has a high consumption of fruits and vegetables. Many of the states with high rankings exhibit people who eat fish, avoid smoking, read for pleasure, watch their weight and place a high priority on education. On the other hand, Louisiana which ranked last place has a high incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and has the lowest breastfeeding rate nationwide. Since breastfeeding naturally provides DHA, which is important for brain development in infants, this statistic contributes to Louisiana’s poor brain health.

In order to maintain good brain health, people should eat fruits and vegetables in addition to DHA omega-3 rich foods like fish. A minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day and playing mental games and learning new things also contribute to good brain health. Other social behavior such as involvement in religious/spiritual activities is also beneficial.

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