Scientists say that eating lots of nuts, seeds and plant oils can reduce your risk of being sent to an early grave.
Iranian researchers reviewed dozens of studies that delved into diet and mortality rates spanning three decades.
They specifically looked at the effects of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an omega-3 found in plants such as soy beans and flaxseed.
The results showed that people with higher intakes of the nutrient – about 1.6ga a day – were 10 percent less likely to die from any cause than those who consumed the lowest amounts – about 0.7 grams.
Deaths from heart disease were also lower among those who ate a diet rich in nuts and other ALA-rich foods.
The study claimed that for every 1 gram increase in ALA per day — about one tablespoon of canola oil — the risk of dying from heart disease decreased by five percent.
However, the review also showed that consumption of high amounts of ALA was associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer.
study published in, british medical journal, states need more tests to confirm the link.
Heart disease – the world’s biggest killer – is behind 160,000 deaths each year in the UK and 659,000 in the US.
Alpha-linolenic acid – an omega-3 found in plants such as soybeans, nuts and flaxseed – was found to reduce the risk of overall death as well as the risk of dying from heart and blood vessel disease.
Graphs show how alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an omega-3 found in plants such as soy beans, nuts and flax seeds – intake affects the risk of death from all causes (top left), heart disease (top right) does. Coronary heart disease (bottom left) and cancer (bottom right). Higher intakes of ALA were associated with a 10 percent drop in the risk of death, an 11 percent drop in the chance of death from coronary heart disease, and an eight percent drop in the risk of death from heart disease. However, the findings suggest the seeds may be associated with a modest increase in cancer risk, but cautioned that more studies would be needed to confirm this.
Earlier studies found that ALA was associated with a lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease — a type of heart disease.
But a raft of others were inconclusive on whether the nutrient improved mortality.
To address the uncertainty, the Tehran University of Medical Sciences team analyzed the results of 41 studies published between 1991 and 2021.
Overall, the studies included 1.2 million adults – mostly from Western countries – who were monitored for between two and 32 years.
Some 198,113 deaths were recorded, of which 62,773 were due to heart disease, while 65,954 were due to cancer.
The review found that adults who ate lots of ALA-rich foods were 10 percent less likely to die from all causes — the equivalent of 113 fewer deaths per 10,000 person-years.
And it reduced the chance of dying from heart disease by eight percent—about 33 fewer deaths per 10,000 person-years.
Sina Nghashi and her colleagues also observed that the more ALA a person consumed, the less likely they were to die from heart disease.
There were 63 additional cancer deaths per 10,000 person-years among those who ate the highest amounts of omega-3s compared to those who ate the least.
The review was based on observation, so it cannot be concluded that ALA consumption definitely improved or promoted cancer risk.
But the researchers believe their findings are ‘robust’, and brag that they add to ‘evidence of the potential health benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids’.
Experts believe that ALA helps with heart health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
He said further studies should examine the association between ALA and other causes of death to determine whether it could be associated with a reduced risk of dying from any other causes.
Experts should also look at specific ALA-rich foods to see whether omega-3 intake affects mortality.
He cautioned that any recommendation to eat more ALA should be made ‘carefully’ due to the discovery of a possible link to cancer.
What should a balanced diet look like?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Foods based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains
• 30 grams of fiber a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruits and vegetables, 2 biscuits of whole wheat cereal, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and a large baked potato with the skin
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (like soy drinks), choose low-fat and low-sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (2 portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in moderation
• Drink 6-8 cups/glass of water in a day
• Adults should have less than 6 grams of salt and 20 grams of saturated fat a day for women or less than 30 grams for men
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide