In our increasingly aging society, it is worth asking: what can we do to ensure that we don’t just live longer lives, but also healthier ones? New research suggests one possible answer — eat more seafood!
A new study, led by Heidi Lai from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, MA, investigates the link between high consumption of omega-3-rich seafood and healthy aging.
Lai and colleagues define “healthy aging” as “meaningful lifespan without chronic diseases and with intact physical and mental function.”
As the researchers explain in their paper, the problem of healthy aging is increasingly important. Populations are aging rapidly across the globe and the rates of chronic disease along with them.
So, more and more research is looking into what constitutes healthy aging and what we can do to achieve it. In this regard, the studies on the link between omega-3 fatty acids and age-related chronic disease have been somewhat inconsistent.
For instance, some studies referenced by Lai and colleagues have found an inverse relation between omega-3 consumption and cardiovascular disease. However, others have found that omega-3 intake correlates with a higher incidence of prostate cancer.
Other studies have yielded “mixed or inconclusive” results when it comes to omega-3s and “cancer, diabetes, lung disease, severe chronic kidney disease, and cognitive and physical dysfunction.”
So, the researchers set out to clarify this potentially significant role that dietary omega-3 fatty acids play in the aging process. The scientists published their findings in the journal The BMJ.
Studying omega-3s and healthy aging
The team examined the circulating blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids of 2,622 adults who were enrolled in the United States Cardiovascular Health Study.
At the beginning of this study in 1992, the participants were 74 years old, on average. Their blood levels of omega-3s were measured then, 6 years later, and 13 years later.
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