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Managing your caloric intake doesn’t mean you have to avoid fatty foods. In fact, there are healthy fats (fatty acid) that can enhance your quality of life.

New research is championing the importance of adding omega-3s to your diet, while watching your omega-6 intake.

Yuchen Zhang is the lead author of the fatty acids study that was published in the journal eLife past April. He concluded a “higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is associated with a greater risk of dying.”

Omega-3s contribute to the health of the heart, blood vessels, lung, immune system and endocrine system. Those fatty acids are naturally found in foods including fish, especially fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, as well as flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds and in dietary supplements such as fish oil.

On the other hand, foods high in omega-6 fatty acids include nuts, seeds, corn, soy as well as the oils and preservatives produced from these foods.

Researchers studied the associations between the omega-3 and omega 6 ratio in blood plasma and the death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. They used data from more than 85,000 people in the UK whose plasma samples were collected from 2007-2010 for the UK Biobank study. After nearly 13 years of follow up, the study’s authors found people with high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 were 26% more likely to die from any cause, 14% more likely to die from cancer and 31% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic, suggests people avoid the above fate by increasing their intake of foods rich in omega-3s and limiting foods high in omega-6s. Also, you can test your blood plasma ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 by visiting a primary care doctor.

“It’s important to note that an unbalanced ratio is only one chapter in our story of better or worse health span,” Kirkpatrick said. “Getting a variety of fiber-rich foods (beneficial to the microbiome) and other nutrient-dense foods, as well as adequate, good-quality sleep, stress management and physical activity play a large role in how long we will enjoy good health within our lifetime.”


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Study: Balancing Fatty Acid Intake Is Key To Living A Long Life  was originally published on