Life is full of uncertainties, but one thing is for sure: It’s impossible to stop getting older. But don’t let that get in the way of living it up! Aging can double as a graceful experience if you make smart lifestyle choices. To start, eat more omega-3 fats, one of the best nutrients for successful aging.
You might wonder about fat’s poor reputation. Push aside your judgments, because it’s a major macronutrient. The body needs fat to function and it’s up to you to choose the right kind. After all, we’re living longer than ever before. In the United States, death rates dropped by 60 percent from 1935 to 2010, creating an elderly population of 40 million. This number is estimated to reach 88.5 million in 2050.
In order to enjoy that old age, focus on nutrition. It’s a major factor of independence, quality of life, and disability.1
Benefits Of Omega-3 Fats For Aging
With omega-3 fatty acids, you can’t go wrong. Here’s how it can help the body prosper in old age.
1. Supports Cognitive Function
Mild forgetfulness is a normal part of aging. Dementia, on the other hand, is not!2 But since it develops over time, you have the chance to eat for mental health.
The brain actually needs omega-3 to function.3 Specifically, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant fat in the brain.4 In fact, according to a 2010 study, it has the power to improve memory and cognitive function in elders.5
2. Reduces Depression
Depression can do a number on anyone’s body, but the effects are worse for elders. It’ll only shorten lifespan, degrade quality of life, and intensify illness. Luckily, the benefits of omega-3 don’t stop at memory. The fat also wards off depression by acting on neurotransmitters and inflammation.6 For the aging person, it’s an excellent way to enhance mood without medication.
3. Decreases Inflammation
Inflammation is behind almost every health problem. Unfortunately, the process only increases with age, causing normal body functions to slow down. Some researchers even call it “inflammageing.”
That’s why omega-3 fats are so important. As anti-inflammatory nutrients, omega-3’s slow down age-induced inflammation. In some cases, it may even control or reverse the process.7
4. Lowers Heart Disease Risk Factors
As the top cause of death for both men and women, heart disease should always be on your radar. Two major risk factors include age and high blood cholesterol.89 And while you can’t control age, cholesterol can benefit from omega-3.
According to a 2017 article in Future Science OA, DHA reduces “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Even inflammation, another risk factor, will take a backseat.10
Foods Rich In Omega-3 Fats
Instead of salty snacks, reach for tree nuts like almonds and cashews. These foods are packed with omega-3 and lean protein! Plus, studies have found that nut intake is associated with lower risk of heart disease, weight gain, and early death.11 Just be sure to eat the unsalted kind. Otherwise, nut intake will do more harm than good.
Need a reason to jump on the avocado trend? Aside from offering omega-3’s, it also contains lutein, a carotenoid that increases attention. Together, these nutrients will keep your noggin in check.12 Avocado also contains antioxidants, making it useful for preventing neurodegenerative diseases.13
3. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are the richest sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA. These fats offer protection from heart disease, even if you already have it. Eating fish will also improve factors like blood vessel function and inflammation. To reap the benefits, experts recommend eating two oily fish meals each week.14
|↑1||Molfino, Alessio, Gianfranco Gioia, Filippo Rossi Fanelli, and Maurizio Muscaritoli. “The role for dietary omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in older adults.” Nutrients 6, no. 10 (2014): 4058-4072.|
|↑2||Salthouse, Timothy A. “When does age-related cognitive decline begin?” Neurobiology of Aging 30.4 (2009): 507-514.|
|↑3||Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑4||Docosahexaenoic Acid. PubChem, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.|
|↑5||Vakhapova, Veronika, Tzafra Cohen, Yael Richter, Yael Herzog, and Amos D. Korczyn. “Phosphatidylserine containing ω–3 fatty acids may improve memory abilities in non-demented elderly with memory complaints: A double-blind placebo-controlled trial.” Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders 29, no. 5 (2010): 467-474.|
|↑6||Farioli-Vecchioli, Stefano, Stefano Sacchetti, Vittoria Nicolis di Robilant, and Debora Cutuli. “Role of physical exercise and omega-3 fatty acids on depressive illness in the elderly.” Current neuropharmacology (2017).|
|↑7||Calder, Philip C., Nabil Bosco, Raphaëlle Bourdet-Sicard, Lucile Capuron, Nathalie Delzenne, Joel Doré, Claudio Franceschi et al. “Health relevance of the modification of low grade inflammation in ageing (inflammageing) and the role of nutrition.” Ageing Research Reviews (2017).|
|↑8||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑9||Heart Disease Risk Factors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑10||Bäck, Magnus. “Omega-3 fatty acids in atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.” Future Science OA 3, no. 4 (2017): FSO236.|
|↑11||Rehm, Colin D., and Adam Drewnowski. “Replacing American snacks with tree nuts increases consumption of key nutrients among US children and adults: results of an NHANES modeling study.” Nutrition journal 16, no. 1 (2017): 17.|
|↑12||Walk, Anne M., Caitlyn G. Edwards, Nicholas W. Baumgartner, Morgan R. Chojnacki, Alicia R. Covello, Ginger E. Reeser, Billy R. Hammond, Lisa M. Renzi-Hammond, and Naiman A. Khan. “The Role of Retinal Carotenoids and Age on Neuroelectric Indices of Attentional Control among Early to Middle-Aged Adults.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience 9 (2017).|
|↑13||Ameer, Kalandar. “Avocado as a Major Dietary Source of Antioxidants and Its Preventive Role in Neurodegenerative Diseases.” In The Benefits of Natural Products for Neurodegenerative Diseases, pp. 337-354. Springer International Publishing, 2016.|
|↑14||Mori, Trevor A. “Marine OMEGA-3 fatty acids in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.” Fitoterapia (2017).|