Many reports regarding the intake of various types of fats have been published and received a great deal of media attention.
The dangers of consuming too much fat, especially saturated fat and trans fat, have been previously emphasized. However, not all types of fat are inappropriate to consume. Indeed, some fats are actually good for you and can reduce your risk of developing different types of chronic diseases.
Recent evidence has also indicated that consuming a specific type of fat can actually reduce your risk of dying prematurely!
Consuming This Fat Lowers Mortality Risk
The study involved the analysis of data from 70,495 subjects who were between 50 and 76 years old and were followed for five years. Data regarding death rates from any cause and their food and supplement intake over this time period were tabulated.
After the five-year follow-up, the subjects who consumed the most fish and also took fish oil supplements had a lower risk of dying prematurely. The researchers found that the subjects who consumed fish at least once per week or took a daily fish oil capsule were 18% less likely to die from any cause compared to subjects who did not consume fish or supplements. The same sample of people who consumed fish and took fish oil were also found to have a 23% reduced risk of dying from cancer compared to the subjects who did not consume the fish or fish oil capsules.
The Fatty Truth
The research indicated that it was the type of fat that these subjects ate which accounted for the differences in mortality rates. The two fats singled out were DHA and EPA found in the omega-3 family of fat found in high concentrations in fish and fish oil supplements. Previous research has consistently indicated that these types of fats are not only essential for the maintenance of human health but their intake can reduce the risk of developing many different types of chronic diseases.
This research also indicated that the mechanism by which the omega-3 fat influenced our physiology was not so simple. It was discovered that there were several different ways in which these fats could influence human health.
Omega-3 Fats Improve Our Health
The intake of omega-3 fats could keep our blood thinner by directly influencing the clotting cascade and decreasing the production of fibrinogen which can cause blood clots. These fats could also affect blood sugar levels by positively influencing the degree of insulin sensitivity on our cells. Omega-3 fats also had a positive effect upon cholesterol synthesis and blood triglyceride levels. There was also some evidence which indicated that these fats could exert a direct influence upon the inner walls of our arteries. This influence could keep our blood pressure lower and the inside of our arteries cleaner.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in the understanding of how these important fats influenced our health was the role that omega-3 fats has upon the control of the inflammatory process itself. It was discovered that the intake of more omega-3 fats in our diet could control the inflammatory process which was behind the development of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and arthritis.
The intake of omega-3 fat has also been previously linked to improved mortality rates and this present study reinforces this fact.
Heid, M., “The Supplement That Could Extend Your Life by 18%,” Prevention web site; http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/omega-3s-may-ward-cancer-and-death, last accessed March 18, 2014.
Bell, G., et al., “Intake of Long-Chain ω-3 Fatty Acids From Diet and Supplements in Relation to Mortality,” Am. J. Epidemiol 2014; 179(6): 710-720.