For many people, getting older means an increasing number of health problems, weakness, frailty and even the possibility of a nursing home.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It is possible to enjoy aging, have a great quality of life throughout your years, remain free of major chronic disease and stay active and sharp.
According to a new study, there is a simple way to decrease your chances of unhealthy aging by a whopping 24 percent — and it’s easy, great for every part of your body (especially your brain and heart) and delicious.
Previous studies suggested that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (those healthy nutrients you get from eating fish and other seafood as well as nuts, seeds, and veggies) plants may have beneficial effects on the body that could promote healthy aging. Unfortunately, the results had been inconsistent.
So, a team of U.S. researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston set out to investigate the association in order to settle the debate once and for all.
As they put it, the need for this research was great because, “We live in challenging times, when lifespans are increasing but healthy lifespans are not.”
The research involved over 2,600 people who were taking part in the U.S. Cardiovascular Health study who were followed for up to 22 years — so this was no flash-in-the-pan study.
The team measured each person’s blood levels of omega-3s throughout the study. They looked at EPA, DHA, and DPA (that you get from seafood) and ALA (that you get from nuts, seeds and green, leafy vegetables). Based on these measurements, participants were split into five groups from lowest to highest.
They then dug through all of their medical records and lab tests and determined that over the timeframe, 89 percent experienced unhealthy aging, while just 11 percent experienced healthy aging (free of major chronic diseases and without mental or physical dysfunction).
And guess what they determined played a big part in who lived a healthy life? Yep, those omega-3s.
In fact, they found that while DHA and ALA didn’t result in changes, people with the highest levels of EPA from seafood had a 24 percent lower risk of unhealthy aging than people with the lowest levels. And DPA reduced the risk by 18 to 21 percent.
According to the scientists, it’s likely that the reason omega-3s can keep you healthy as you age is that they help to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and inflammation.
Eat your fish
It’s clear from this research that if you want to live a long, healthy, active life, omega-3s from fish and seafood are extremely important.
To get more in your diet, try replacing three meals a week of your normal beef, chicken or pork with wild-caught salmon, mackerel or tuna. Or treat yourself to king crab, lobster or caviar and add anchovies to your Caesar salad.
You can further boost your omega-3s by taking a daily supplement.
Remember, aging can mean good health, independence, and happiness. You just have to make the right choices. Start getting more omega-3s in your diet today to ensure your quality of life tomorrow.