ALA Fats Linked with Greater Longevity

When it comes to dietary fats, not all are created equal and researchers have found that omega-3 fatty acids, primarily found in fish, vegetable oils, nuts, and leafy greens, have health benefits for the body.  A new study specifically links alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) with longevity and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. 

According to a recent Well + Good Food and Nutrition post, a new paper published in the British Medical Journal found that eating plenty of ALA fats was significantly associated with a lower risk of death from all causes.   The research used data from more than a million people over a period of 32 years.  

ALA fats have been found to inhibit inflammation that can contribute to cognitive decline and chronic health conditions over time.  ALA fats are found in soybean and canola oil as well as tofu, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, beans, flaxseed, and flaxseed oil.  A small handful of walnuts or a tablespoon of flaxseed or canola oil will provide more than the daily gram of ALA fats recommended by dietitians. 

It’s also important to get enough eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as part of a healthy diet.  Fatty fish like salmon is a good source of EPA and DHA which can also be found in seaweed and algae or may be consumed using an omega-3 supplement.   People who live in the Blue Zones have been found to be among the healthiest and longest living of the world’s populations – they often consume nuts, seeds, olives, and fish which contain essential omega-3 fatty acids. 

If you are a baker and craving some comfort food this weekend, here’s a healthy, dairy-free recipe from Parsnips and Pastries for banana bread that includes walnuts, honey, and flaxseed.