Staying healthy into old age may be directly linked to this food, researchers find

Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can help you maintain your health as you age. But one type of food is especially beneficial, according to a new report.

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Researchers from Tufts University recently conducted a study, published in the BMJ journal, to determine the link between omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential nutrients that help prevent and manage heart disease and may help lower blood pressure, and healthy aging.

Healthy aging was defined in the assessment as “a meaningful lifespan without major chronic diseases and with good physical and mental function,”

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For the trial, they examined 2,622 adults, with an average age of 74, who took part in the U.S. Cardiovascular Health study from 1992 to 2015. The analysts measured the participants’ blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids at the beginning of the trial, at the six-year mark and again after 13 years.

After analyzing the results, they discovered only 11 percent of the subjects maintained good health through old age, which they believe was due to omega-3 acids.

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While the nutrients are found in foods like nuts, leafy greens vegetables and flaxseed oils, the results show omega-3s in seafood had the greatest effect. In fact, seafood with omega-3s was linked with a 24 percent lower risk of unhealthy aging.

"These findings encourage the need for further investigations into plausible biological mechanisms and interventions related to n3-PUFAs [omega-3s] for maintenance of healthy aging, and support guidelines for increased dietary consumption of fish among older adults," the authors wrote in a statement.

The scientists think the omega-3s can prevent heart disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease, but more research is needed to explore its benefits.

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"Any evidence-based clues to improve health in later life are welcome but additional efforts to accelerate this area of research are essential," they concluded. 

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