Study Links Omega-3 Shortfall to Early Death

Fresh salmon | Image by congerdesign/Pixabay

New research further supports the protective effects of omega-3s, suggesting that they are key to living a long and healthy life.

A paper from researchers affiliated with the University of Georgia appeared last month in the peer-reviewed journal eLife. Leveraging the health data of 85,425 participants in the UK Biobank, the team found that the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in blood plasma was a significant indicator of mortality risks — especially from cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Obesity — the prevalence of which recently hit record-breaking heights, as reported by The Dallas Express — is a significant driver of both cancer and cardiovascular disease, which are the two leading causes of death in the United States.

The individuals studied were between the ages of 40 and 69. They were asked to answer questionnaires about their diet and have blood samples taken for a period of at least 10 years. Approximately 7.5% of the group died during this time: 2,794 from cancer and 1,668 from cardiovascular disease.

Looking at the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio among participants, the paper’s authors found that those with high ratios were 26% more at risk of early death compared to their counterparts with lower ratios. Moreover, their risk of dying from heart disease was 31% higher, and from cancer was 14% higher.

“There is some evidence to suggest that the high omega-6 to omega-3 fats ratio typical of Western diets — 20:1 or even higher, compared to an estimated 1:1 during most of human evolution — contributes to many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders,” Yuchen Zhang, lead author of the paper, told CNN.

Omega-6 and omega-3 are both polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and are essential for several vital bodily functions. However, omega-6, which can be found in nuts, seeds, corn, and soy, as well as products from animals fed these items, should be consumed in moderation. Boosting omega-3 levels by regularly consuming salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds can help achieve a healthier ratio due to their greater protective effects.

In general, a healthy diet should include PUFAs, but it is recommended not to exceed 25% to 30% of daily calories stemming from fats. Since fats contain roughly twice the calories of proteins and carbohydrates, not eating them in moderation — even the healthy kind — can result in weight gain.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article