Omega-3 fatty acids, often found in fish oil supplements and other seafood, have long gotten a reputation for being beneficial to physical and mental health. Now, a brand new study shows just how crucial they are to your overall well-being — including longevity
On top of a lengthier lifespan, people who had more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets decreased their cancer risk by 15 percent and lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by 11 percent.
The team behind the study hopes that their findings will make more people want to start enriching their diets with omega-3 fatty acids. “Since all of these analyses were statistically adjusted for multiple personal and medical factors, we believe that these are the strongest data published to date supporting the view that over the long-term, having higher blood omega-3 levels can help maintain better overall health,” Bill Harris, Ph.D., the paper’s lead author and the founder of the Fatty Acid Research Institute.
If all of that news didn’t make you want to run out and grab some fish oil supplements, another recent study found that omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in preventing stress-induced signs of aging. A compound that protects against heart disease, cancer, shorter lifespans, and aging? Sounds like it’s time to also eat some more seafood, nuts, and seeds. (Just make sure you talk to your doctor first before making any changes to your diet, like adding a new supplement!)
Adolescents with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid in their blood were less likely to develop the psychotic disorder in early adulthood, suggesting that it may have a potentially preventative effect of during these assessments, blood samples were collected, and the researchers measured the levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which generally increase inflammation in the body, and omega-3 fatty acids, which generally reduce inflammation.
While there was little evidence that fatty acids were associated with mental disorders at age 17, the researchers found that young adults with psychotic disorder, depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder had higher levels of omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids compared to those without these disorders.
Also found that young adults with psychotic disorder had lower levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid typically found in oily fish or dietary supplements, then young adults without psychotic disorder. In a group of over 2,700 individuals who were tracked over time, adolescents with higher levels of DHA at age 17 were 56% less likely to develop psychotic disorder seven years later at age 24. This suggests that DHA in adolescence may have a potential preventative effect of reducing the risk of psychosis in early adulthood.
These results remained consistent when accounting for other factors such as sex, body mass index, tobacco smoking, and socioeconomic status.
“The study needs to be replicated, but if the findings are consistent, these results would suggest that enhanced dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids among adolescents, such as through oily fish like mackerel, could prevent some people from developing psychosis in their early twenties,” said Professor David Cotter, senior author of the study and professor molecular psychiatry at RCSI.
“The results could also raise questions about the relationship between the development of mental health disorders and omega-6 fatty acids, which are typically found in vegetable oils.”