While watching television, I saw this ad for Juicy Juice’s new Brain Development Fruit Juice Beverage:
“Her brain will triple in size by the time she is two. New Juicy Juice® Brain Development Fruit Juice Beverage is enhanced with DHA, an essential building block for brain development, and comes in delicious apple and grape flavors. So you can help her shine a little more every day”.
I was a bit skeptical when I first heard this—I hadn’t heard of DHA before, and with the FDA’s current investigations into health claims that food products are making, I needed to know more. However, DHA is the real deal, and quite a remarkable thing. DHA, or decosahexaenoic acid, is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that makes up 40% of the brain’s polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). DHA are found naturally in fish oils (the Juicy Juice’s DHA is derived from tuna), and a vegetarian alternative is manufactured from microalgae.
There are multiple health benefits of having a DHA-rich diet. DHA has been shown to reduce the level of blood triglycerides, thus lowering the risk of heart disease. In the brain, DHA is involved in the modulation of the transport of important organic compounds and acids, including choline, glycine and taurine. In addition, there has been cancer research with promising results: one study showed DHA acted better than other omega-3 fatty acids in inhibiting the growth of human colon carcinoma cells, and another study in 2008 showed that DHA increased the effectiveness of chemotherapy on prostate cancer cells. However, it is still too early in the testing phase for DHA to be used as a form of treatment.