Feed Your Cells and Keep Them Young

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.

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