Omega-3 fatty acids have myriad health benefits, from increasing cardiovascular health to improving brain function. New research has found that omega-3s can also curb certain biological effects that come with aging.
According to Ohio State University, a study conducted on adults who took an omega-3 supplement for four months found that DNA segments that protect the ends of chromosomes known as telomeres, which usually decrease in length with the progression of time, actually became longer during the trial period. In addition, the source notes, omega-3s also proved to be effective in combating oxidative stress, which results from cancer-causing free radicals.
“The telomere finding is provocative in that it suggests the possibility that a nutritional supplement might actually make a difference in aging,” says Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor at Ohio State University.
Besides increasing telomere length, omega-3 fatty acids also reduced inflammation in the same test group. All of these benefits combined could prove to be helpful in decreasing the risk of ailments usually associated with age and a poor diet, such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and arthritis, according to Ohio State University.
Other findings show that omega-3s may also help prevent cognitive decline. Time Magazine reports that a study conducted by the Columbia University of Medical Center on more than a 1,000 people over 65 years old, found that those who consumed more of the fatty acids had lower levels of beta amyloids, which are indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.
Martha Belroy, another University of Ohio professor, recommends complementing omega-3s with omega-6 fatty acids. However, the source reports that many Americans’ diets are already rich in omega-6s, which are found in vegetable oils.