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Do People Who Eat Fish Grow Old More Healthfully?

A long-running study suggests that people who eat fish and shellfish regularly are less prone to chronic disease as they age.

Does eating fish or taking fish oil make any difference for your health? For decades, researchers have touted the anti-inflammatory benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. They have suggested that adequate levels of these unsaturated fats may help people ward off macular degeneration or heart disease. They may also help people avoid arthritis. Not all of these benefits have held up to further study (for example, macular degeneration does not seem to benefit). But new data indicate that people who eat fish or shellfish regularly stay healthier as they age.

People Who Eat Fish Seem to Age Better:

Results from a study of more than 2,600 older Americans suggest that diets rich in fish and shellfish containing omega-3 fats can help people stay healthy as they age (The BMJ, Oct. 17, 2018). The study started in 1992 and lasted until 2015. Blood levels of omega-3 fats were measured at the beginning of the study, after six years and at 13 years.

People with the highest levels of seafood-derived fats were significantly less likely to develop chronic disease. They were also less susceptible to cognitive or physical impairment. As an observational study, this cannot prove that omega-3 fats are protective, but these data are certainly suggestive.

Learn How to Cook Fish:

Previous studies have shown that people who eat fish get the most benefit if they eat it poached, baked or grilled rather than fried. If you would like some recipes that show how to make delicious meals based on fish, you may be interested in our book, Recipes & Remedies from The People’s Pharmacy.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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