Oily fish, such as sardines, could slow the aging process, a new US study has found.
Scientists at the University of California at San Francisco have published a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association and have found that Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil preserve the genetic "fuse" that determines the lifespan of cells.
The research was carried out on heart disease patients, and found that rodents live one-third longer when given a diet enriched with fish-derived omega-3.
Taking fish oil supplements is said to protect against heart disease, improve survival rates after a heart attack, reduce mental decline in old age and help to prevent age-related changes in the eye that can lead to blindness.
Each time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter until a critical point is reached. DNA then becomes damaged and the cell stops dividing, and may die. In this way, the telomere acts like a biological fuse.
The rate at which the fuse "burns" can vary both between individual people and individual cells. This is believed to have an impact on age-related diseases.
The study was led by Dr Ramin Farzaneh-Far, who said the findings raised the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids may protect against cellular ageing in patients with coronary heart disease.
Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids:
Salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, flaxseed, linseed, walnuts, hazelnuts, eggs.