Omega-3 oils, which have been somewhat of a buzz-word the last few years, do in fact appear to improve health and survival in those with heart disease. Omega-3 fats have also been found to ward off heart disease in the first place. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how and why omega-3s protect your heart, but a new study does provide some clues to this mystery.
Reversing a cell’s age
In trying to find the link between a healthy heart and omega 3 oils, the researchers studied the length of ‘telomeres’. Telomeres coat both ends of each strand of DNA, they’re a bit like the plastic ends of shoelaces, which stop the lace from unwinding.
According to researchers, telomere length is a good marker of how old a cell is, because as cells age, the telomeres become shorter. The shorter a cell’s telomeres, the older the cell is. When the telomeres become too short to protect DNA from damage, the cell goes into a resting phase or dies and is then replaced by other cells
More omega-3 oils, younger cells?
The study, looked at 608 people with stable heart disease. Researchers measured the subjects’ white blood cell telomere length at the start of the study and again five years later. At the same time they also measured omega-3 blood levels too.
The study’s results showed that the participants who had the highest levels of omega-3 fats in the their blood at the inception of the study experienced the slowest rates of telomere shortening in the 5 year study period. The shortening telomere rates were much more rapid, in those participants that had the lower levels of omega-3 in their blood.
The study indicates that omega-3 fats may protect cells from ageing, and this could well be one reason why omega-3s help keep the heart healthy, even if there is heart disease to begin with, but more research still needed in this area.
Are you getting enough omega-3?
Omega-3 fats could also lower the risks of other chronic conditions including cancer.
There are many excellent food sources for omega-3 oils, these include linseeds, olive oil, spirulina, chia seeds, wheatgrass powder, and walnuts too. By making a small addition to our diet, we can all make sure we’re getting enough omega-3.
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