Certain fats found in seafood may help keep you healthy for years to come, according to a new study published in the BMJ.
Higher blood levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids — healthy fats found in foods such as fish, nuts, leafy greens and vegetable and flaxseed oils — were associated with a greater chance of healthy aging, according to the observational research. Omega-3s found in seafood seemed to have the strongest effect, says study co-author Heidi Lai, a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
“There had been studies that looked at the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and individual components of healthy aging, but not in combination,” Lai wrote in an email to TIME. “Our study contributes to that gap of knowledge.”
The researchers focused specifically on healthy aging — meaning living into old age without chronic conditions such as heart disease, dementia and cancer, or dying after age 65 without any of these conditions — rather than on longevity, because it’s a better marker of actual well-being, Lai says. “People nowadays are living longer, but they are not necessarily in good health,” she says. “No one really wants to live a long life and spend most of their late life burdened with disease.”