Consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of death from any cause by approximately 33 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology. The study also found that blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are a better indicator of death risk from any cause than cholesterol.
The researchers of the study measured the serum cholesterol levels and blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids in 2,500 people in order to determine a person’s risk of developing certain diseases. All of the participants in the current study did not have any cardiovascular disease when the study started.
Although the researchers mainly concentrated on total mortality or death from any cause as an endpoint, they also observed deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes. Moreover, they reported the associations between levels of omega-3 fatty acids and the risk for any cardiovascular disease occurrence. The participants of the study were 66 years of age, and they were followed the researchers for disease outcomes until around the age of 73. Other factors that could influence the outcomes were also taken into consideration.
The findings of the study showed that higher EPA and DHA levels were linked to a lower risk for total cardiovascular disease events, total coronary heart disease events, and total strokes. Furthermore, this was most evident in deaths from all other causes, indicating that the beneficial health effects of EPA and DHA in the body are not limited to one pathological process, such as plaque accumulation in the arteries.
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Other health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that can only be obtained from the diet since the body cannot produce them. There are three most important types of omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), DHA, and EPA. ALA is primarily found in plants, while DHA and EPA are primarily obtained from animal foods and algae. Some of the foods that are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, fish oils, flax seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids provide many health benefits. Listed below are some of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Improves mental health – Studies found that consumption of omega 3-s may help prevent depression and anxiety, with EPA being the most effective. They can also help prevent age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Enhances eye health – DHA may help fight macular degeneration, which can cause vision impairment and blindness.
- Promotes brain growth and development in infants – Omega-3 fatty acids consumption during pregnancy causes the child to have higher intelligence, better communication and social skills, less behavioral problems, reduced risk of development delay, and reduced risk of ADHD, autism, and cerebral palsy.
- Fights inflammation – Omega-3s can lessen chronic inflammation, which can contribute to heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, by reducing the production of molecules and substances linked to inflammation. (Related: The Powerful Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Preventing Diseases of Inflammation: The Experts Speak.)
- Supports skin health – Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA can help keep skin healthy. DHA contributes to the health of cell membranes which make up a large part of skin, and a healthy cell membrane leads to a soft, moist, supple, and wrinkle-free. On the other hand, EPA hydrates the skin, prevents premature aging of the skin, and fights acne.
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