TIMEHEALTH February 22, 2010
Omega-3 fatty acids – found in fish oil and flaxseed – are already known to help protect you from such age-related illnesses as heart disease [and cancer]. Now research shows they may slow cellular aging.
Doctors followed 608 San Francisco patients with stable coronary-artery disease and found that those with high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had less telomere shortening over the next five years. Telomeres are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes (frequently likened to the plastic tips that keep shoe-laces from fraying), and telomere length is increasingly seen as a marker for biological aging – entirely separate from chronological age.
In earlier research, cardiologist Ramin Farzaneh-Far, who led the new omega-3 study, helped show that telomere length can be a predictor of death risk in humans. The new finding is exciting because, he says, “it means that telomere shortening is not inevitable.” A good diet may not just keep you healthy. Perhaps it really can keep you young.