Omega-3 index predicts mortality as does smoking, suggests one study

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A new study, based on data from the Framingham Offspring Cohort, found that blood omega-3s were as good a predictor of mortality from any cause as smoking.

The study was conducted by the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM), the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI), and several universities in the United States and Canada. The researchers found that omega-3 levels in red blood cells are very good predictors of mortality risk and conclude that “higher levels of these acids in the blood as a result of regular consumption of oily fish increases life expectancy by almost five “Years” while a regular smoker reduces life expectancy by 4.7 years.

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The study analyzed blood fatty acid level data from 2,240 people over the age of 65 who were monitored for an average of 11 years. The aim was to validate which fatty acids act as good predictors of mortality. The result: four types of fatty acids, including omega-3, do this job. Two of the fatty acids are saturated fats, traditionally associated with cardiovascular risk and the levels of which cannot be changed by diet. “This confirms what we’ve seen lately,” says Dr. Aleix Sala-Vila, postdoctoral fellow in the research group on cardiovascular risks and nutrition at IMIM and author of the study, in a press release. “Not all saturated fats are necessarily bad.”

Dr. Sala-Vila suggested that these results can help personalize dietary recommendations based on blood levels of various fatty acids. “What we found is not insignificant,” said Dr. Sala vila. “It reinforces the idea that small changes in diet in the right direction can have a much stronger effect than we think, and it is never too late or too early to make these changes.”

The next steps for the researchers include analyzing the same indicators in similar but non-European populations to see to what extent the results can be applied.

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