This Study Suggests Seafood Could Be The Secret Ingredient In Healthy Aging

In case you need more proof.

Assorted Seafood
Photo: anouchka/Getty Images

Aging well isn't just about living longer—it's about being able to enjoy the later decades of life without illness or disability.

Until we discover the mythical fountain of youth, achieving both good health and longevity requires a combination of taking care of your body through the things we can control such as diet. And thanks to research, we're learning that a big part of that equation is as simple as eating more seafood.

The results of a study published in The British Medical Journal suggest that a higher blood level of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish was associated with a lower risk of unhealthy aging in older people.

"We should think about how to increase that level in our body," lead author Heidi TM Lai told Today. "We're living longer burdened with disease so as researchers, we want to start to focus on the quality of life and not just longevity."

According to the study, older adults benefit from getting more omega-3s—a type of healthy fat available in food—in their diets. And the best sources of this are seafood, particularly cold-water fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines.

To reach this conclusion, researchers analyzed the omega-3 blood levels of 2,622 adults using data from the Cardiovascular Health Study of older Americans. Blood tests on the participants were repeated six and 13 years later.

Over the years, a whopping 89 percent of participants experienced unhealthy aging, including the development of chronic illness and various physical or mental declines. Interestingly, the other 11 percent remained healthy, showing no sign of heart disease, cancer, physical limitations, cognitive issues or any problems with daily living.

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After further analysis of the numbers, researchers found that higher blood levels of the omega-3s found in seafood was associated with an 18 percent lower risk of "unhealthy aging." And just one four-ounce serving of seafood a week can make all the difference.

"The takeaway is that this study supports national dietary guidelines to consume more seafood," Lai told Today. "If you're aged 65 and above, this would be a good idea."

You don't have to tell us twice!

Looking for more ways to incorporate this superfood into your diet? Check out our best seafood recipes here.

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  1. Lai HT, de Oliveira Otto MC, Lemaitre RN, et al. Serial circulating omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and healthy ageing among older adults in the Cardiovascular Health Study: prospective cohort studyBMJ 2018; 363 :k4067. doi:10.1136/bmj.k4067

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