Omega-3 fatty acid consumption associated with lower risk of early death
11/23/2018 // Cassie B. // Views

There is a lot of talk about foods that can send you to an early grave. We all know that we should avoid excess sugar and processed meats, but what is the flipside of that? If you want to take a more positive view and think about what you can do to make your life longer, there’s a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that omega-3 fatty acids are linked to a lower risk of early death.

The latest study to highlight these benefits was recently published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. It was a large study, following more than 240,000 men and 180,000 women for the course of 16 years. During that time, more than 54,000 of the men and 30,000 of the women died.

What did those who lived longer have in common? Those who consumed the most fish and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids noted significantly lower total mortality rates. For example, men who ate the most fish had a nine percent lower total mortality. When broken down by cause, their cardiovascular disease mortality rate was 10 percent lower, their cancer mortality rate was six percent lower, their chronic liver disease mortality rate was 37 percent lower, and their respiratory disease mortality rate was 20 percent lower.

A similar trend was seen in women, whose total mortality was 80 percent lower among the group who ate the most fish. This group also noted a 10 percent lower rate of cardiovascular disease mortality and a 38 percent lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease mortality.

Meanwhile, there was an association between long chain omega-3 fatty acid intake and lower cardiovascular disease mortality among both genders, with an 18 percent lower rate in women and a 15 percent lower rate in men.


If you’re thinking of frying up some fish so you can get these benefits for yourself, think again: the researchers say it’s better to leave the deep fryer in the pantry. Consuming fried fish was not related to mortality among men; in women, it was linked to a higher risk of mortality from all causes, along with respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease.

This coincides with the findings of 2013 study that looked at 2,700 people. In that study, those who had the most circulating omega-3s lived roughly two years longer on average than those who had the lowest level.

In that study, the researchers looked at blood samples taken from American adults aged 65 and older who did not have heart disease at the study’s inception. They measured the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood and followed them from 1992 to 2008 to see how many of them passed away from various causes.

At the end of the study, more than 1,600 of the study's participants had died. The researchers discovered that those who had the greatest amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood at the beginning of the study had a 27 percent lower likelihood of dying of any cause throughout the course of the study when compared to those at the lowest levels. This equated to two extra years of a life after the age of 65, and much of the gain was attributed to a halving of the rate of death due heart disease among those with high levels of fatty acids.

How can you raise your omega-3 intake?

You can find omega-3 fatty acids in many fatty fish. Mackerel is one of the best sources, but salmon, herring, sardines and oysters are also excellent sources of this nutrient. Just remember that you should never fry fish if you’re consuming it for health benefits. If you’re not a seafood fan, consider sources like chia seeds, flax seeds or walnuts.

While it’s good to know which foods can shorten your life, why not take a more positive approach and add foods associated with longevity to your diet?

Read for more coverage of the health benefits of omega-3s.

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