We’ve been told that sitting for long periods of time is just as unhealthy as smoking, and now there’s a new factor in health that has evidence to prove it’s equally as detrimental as smoking. Fortunately, it’s as easy to remedy as learning to sit less, and could even be combined with more activity for a win-win situation.
Studying cardiovascular disease risk factors which can be measured in blood markers, the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids are now front and center in the prediction of early mortality. Omega-3 fatty acids can be measured in the membranes of red blood cells to provide a look at how much DHA and EPA is present.
Combining the red blood cell markers of the Omega-3 fatty acids with a study which followed almost 3,000 adults between 66 and 73 years old (and measuring cardiovascular disease risk factors), researchers found that a low level of Omega-3 was significantly associated with mortality. It wasn’t just deaths caused by cardiovascular disease, but overall mortality.
Keeping levels of Omega-3s high resulted in a 33% reduction in all-cause mortality. The best Omega-3 index is at or greater than 8%, with low at 4% of below. Regional and cultural differences in the amounts of Omega-3 were also noted, as most Americans measuring in at lower than 4%. Japanese adults have an average Omega-3 index of greater than 8%, and researchers noted that lifespan is significantly increased in Japan.
Modeling this data resulted in the assessment that smoking right up to age 65 takes four or more years off lifespan compared with those who don’t smoke; and having a low level of Omega-3 is equivalent to this.
Incorporating fish oil supplements or vegan sources of DHA and EPA may be a way to reduce these health concerns, as well as reap the benefits of fish oil for supporting the health of the heart, brain, and joints. If fish oil supplements aren’t your thing, consider incorporating several servings of fish in your diet each week—and if you’re really looking after your health, make sure to sit less by actively cooking the fish in your kitchen. You’ll be active and making sure you’re getting enough Omega-3, doubling your chance of having a healthier and longer life.
Michael I McBurney, Nathan L Tintle, Ramachandran S Vasan, et. al. Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021;, nqab195, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqab195