Analysis of the 11-year data collected by the Framingham Offspring Cohorte showed that the omega-3 index was a strong predictor of all-cause mortality in the 2,240 participants who were not without predominant cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.
“It is interesting to note that in Japan, where the average omega-3 index is above 8%, the expected lifespan is about five years longer than in the United States, where the average omega-3 index is about 5% . Therefore, in practice, nutritional choices that alter the omega-3 index can make life longer, ”said Michael McBurney, PhD, FCNS-SCN, lead researcher on this study.
“In the final combined model, smoking and the omega-3 index appear to be the most easily modifiable risk factors. A current smoker (65 years of age) is expected to subtract more than four years of life (compared to not smoking), a life shortening corresponding to a low vs. a high omega-3 index. “.”
The omega-3 index measures the content of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA + DHA, in the membranes of the red blood cells, expressed as a percentage of total fatty acids.
An omega-3 index in the 8-12% range is an indicator of better overall health. As part of an overall healthy lifestyle, an omega-3 index of 8% or more can help maintain heart, brain, eye, and joint health. A medium omega-3 index is between 4% and 8% and a low omega-3 index is 4% and below. Most Americans have an omega-3 index below 4%.
Dr. McBurney and his colleagues at the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) systematically examined the relationship between eight standard risk factors (age, gender, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, treatment for high blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, smoking status and common diabetes) and various fatty acid metrics with all-cause mortality.
The omega-3 index was identified among the fatty acid metrics identified as significant predictors of all-cause mortality in at least five of the different models.
According to the researchers in this study, the finding that any FA-based metric would have predictive power similar to the established standard risk factors was unexpected, suggesting that red blood cell fatty acids – via mechanisms that are not perfectly understood – somehow reflect an in vivo -Milieu that consolidates into one measure the effects of all these standard risk factors on the body.
“The information contained in the levels of the four red blood cell fatty acids was as useful in predicting all-round mortality as the information on lipid levels, blood pressure, smoking and diabetes status,” said Dr. Bill Harris, co-author of this study and co-inventor of the Omega-3 Index.
“This speaks to the strength of the Omega-3 index as a risk factor and should be seen as just as important as the other established risk factors, maybe even more so.”
The researchers said the results need to be replicated in other cohorts before the FA fingerprint is validated as a predictor of all-cause mortality.
The study was supported in part by the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS) through a grant from the International Life Sciences Institute North America Lipid Committee.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online before going to press, doi: 10.1093 / ajcn / nqab195
“An erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict all-cause mortality risk: the Framingham descendant cohort”
Authors: MI McBurney et al.