Healthy fats from fish and plants boost lifespan

According to a new Swedish study, there are two food groups you'll want to eat more of if you're trying to extend your lifespan: vegetables and fish. The study found that people who have higher levels of polyunsaturated fats, a form of healthy fat that can be found mainly in fish and plants, had a significantly reduced chance of death from any cause.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden recruited 2,193 women and 2,039 men to participate in the study, then tracked them for a period of 14.5 years, measuring the levels of different types of fats circulating in their bloodstreams. Over the course of the study, 265 men and 191 women died, and 294 men and 190 women had major cardiac events, like heart attacks.

Having higher levels of linoleic acid, a fatty acid found in vegetable oil, was associated with a 27 percent mortality risk reduction among men, but for some reason, the same effect was not found for women. However, high levels of EPA and DHA, which are fatty acids found in fish, were found to reduce mortality risk by about 20 percent for both men and women.

"The study supports current dietary guidelines that advise having sufficient intake of both fish and vegetable oils in a heart-healthy diet," said senior author Dr. Ulf Riserus of Uppsala University in an email to the press.

However, nutritionist Samantha Heller of New York University cautions that eating too much of any one food group is never healthy.

"There is no one miracle food that will launch us into immortality," Heller said. "The lifestyle as a whole must be considered, including daily physical activity and eating less animal foods like meat, cheese and butter. 

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