Eating Fish Lower Risks of Dying in Older Adults
Current dietary guidelines recommend eating fatty fish twice a week to benefit from omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, which has been shown to protect against heart disease. Now a new study suggests that eating fatty fish can also reduce one’s overall risk of death as well as death from heart disease.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Washington led by Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology found that elderly participants who had the highest serum levels of omega-3 fatty acids lived more than two years longer than those who had the lowest levels.
The study, which was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked into data collected for 16 years involving around 2,700 U.S. adults aged 65 or older who participated in the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a long-term study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Participants who were generally healthy at the beginning of the study came from North Carolina, California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. None of them were taking fish oil supplements. They underwent physical examination, laboratory tests and answered questionnaires on health and lifestyle.
The researchers found that increased levels of specific omega-3 fatty acids whether individually and combined were associated with a significantly lower risk of death. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) reduced the risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) the most (40%), especially those due to abnormalities in heart rhythm (45%). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) were most strongly associated with lower risk of nonfatal heart attack and stroke death, respectively. When combined, they found that participants with the highest levels of all three types of fatty acids had a 27% lower risk of total death from all causes.
Harvard School of Public Health. Eating fish associated with lower risk of dying among older adults: Risk of dying from heart disease significantly lowered. ScienceDaily.