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Eat Wild Alaska Seafood and Live Longer

Wild Alaska Seafood Health Benefits
Image courtesy of Alaska Seafood

Eat wild Alaska Seafood and live longer.

It might seem like an outlandish claim that we’ve found the fountain of youth, but more evidence keeps showing up that that eating seafood might not only improve longevity, but the quality of life in old age.

recent study revealed that higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish are associated with a lower risk of unhealthy aging (longer version of the study here). Another study, which looked at 2700 generally healthy American adults and how the Omega-3s in their blood affected their lives, showed that older adults with higher levels of omega-3s have a 27% lower risk of prematurely dying from all causes and a 35% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Those who have the most heart-healthy Omega-3s in their diets live, on average, 2.2 years longer than those with the least.

But it’s not just living longer on average that makes seafood special, incorporating more seafood as part of our diets is also associated with healthier aging. A study of over 2,500 adults between 1992 and 2015  found that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids present in seafood reduce the risk of unhealthy aging. The study found, after correcting for other factors such as age, sex, and race, that adults with higher levels of EPA and DPA had a better chance of healthy aging. Healthy aging is defined as a living a meaningful lifespan without chronic diseases.

The study found, after correcting for other factors such as age, sex, and race, that adults with higher levels of EPA and DPA had a better chance of healthy aging. Participants with the highest level of omega-3s present had an 18 percent lower risk of unhealthy aging. Participants with the highest levels of EPA and DPA, the omega-3s commonly found in seafood, had the best results: Those with high levels of EPA had a 24 percent lower risk of unhealthy aging, and those with DPA had an 18 percent lower risk of unhealthy aging.

“We found that older adults who had higher levels of omega 3 from seafood were more likely to live longer and healthier lives,” lead study author Heidi Lai of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston told Reuters. “These findings support current national dietary guidelines to consume more seafood.”

Based on these studies, nutritionists and health professionals are coalescing around the following recommendations:

  • Eating fish two or three times per week can reduce risk of chronic disease.
  • The lean protein and omega-3s in wild Alaska seafood make it a smart, nutritious choice.
  • Eating seafood is good for your heart.
  • Eating seafood not only lowers blood pressure, but can help potentially reducing risk of stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic diseases.

The healthy omega-3 fats, lean protein, vitamin D, and selenium in fish prove so powerful that both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend eating seafood at least two times a week.

This February we’ll be celebrating American Heart Month. With one in four deaths in the United States caused by heart disease, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented when we make healthy choices. One healthy choice to make is including more seafood in our diets. A number of our customers have noted on the phone with us that their doctors’ recommendations of including more seafood in their diets led them to find Alaska Gold. With our line-caught wild salmon and sablefish, which are particularly high in Omega-3s, you can’t go wrong. Being line-caught means that the salmon are by definition actively feeding, at their peak, and especially loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids.

Alaska Seafood is also good choice if you are watching salt in your diet. Evidence suggests that eating seafood with omega-3s contributes to lower blood pressure, especially in people with high blood pressure (hypertension) or on weight-loss diets. In addition, omega-3s act on blood vessels and kidneys to help lower blood pressure. Reducing salt while increasing omega-3 intake further lowers blood pressure.

Eat wild Alaska seafood for your heart. Live longer and healthier.

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The Skin-Saving Power of Omega-3s in Wild Salmon

Sunny day wild salmon just caught by an Alaskan fisherman
On a sunny day with a king salmon.

As the summer days grow long and warm and the sun beckons us outdoors, the importance of sunscreen increases, as exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays can lead not only to painful sunburns, but also to the development of skin cancer.  But before we jump on the Banana Boat, it is worth considering a recent report, which reveals that topical sunscreens may not be the only way that we can protect our skin from UV radiation.  In fact, there is evidence that compounds in certain foods can also serve as sun-defense mechanisms, providing us with a tasty addition to our regular skincare routines.  The omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish like wild salmon, sablefish and albacore tuna add a potential new dimension to skincare.

While topical sunscreens may provide significant protection from acute sunburn, many of us do not apply enough of it—or reapply it often enough—to experience its full protective benefits, giving us a false sense of security about the level of skin protection we are receiving.  On the other hand, nutrients, such as vitamins, other antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids, may contribute of sun protection from the “chronic,” daily UV exposure that we so often face without sunscreen.  This ultimately suggests that a combined approach to skin protection (including topical sunscreen plus foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids like wild salmon) may be most effective at preventing damage from UV radiation.

The marine sources of omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, are among the richest providers of these essential fatty acids, which decrease inflammation, promote heart health, and foster ideal brain development in infants and children. It now appears that we can add “skin-protection” to the list of health benefits conferred by the omega-3 fatty acids in seafood.

One 2011 study concluded that omega-3 fatty acids are able to reduce skin inflammation caused by UV-radiation exposure by modifying cell membranes and cell signaling pathways. Omega-3 fatty acids protect the “health of the cell membrane, which is not only what acts as the barrier to things that are harmful, but also the passageway for nutrients to cross in and out and for waste products to get in and out of the cell,” says Ann Yelmokas McDermott, PhD, a nutritionist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. In addition, McDermott says that since the membrane is what influences the cells’ ability to hold water, having a healthy barrier yields moister, softer, more subtle, and more wrinkle-free skin. In his best-selling book, The Wrinkle Cure, dermatologist and skin care expert Nicholas V. Perricone, MD reports foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds — natural chemicals involved in the aging process, that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels.

A 2003 double-blind, randomized trial confirms these conclusions, as 4 grams per day of supplemental EPA (found in fish oil) increased the study participants’ sunburn threshold (that is, the amount of UV exposure it takes to cause a sunburn) by 36% while also preventing DNA damage through the incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids into the skin. This study thus provides further support for the skin-protecting abilities of omega-3 fatty acids.  Additionally, in a case-control study, researchers discovered a consistent tendency for study participants to have a lower risk of developing skin cancer when they consumed higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.3 The studies do not suggest abandoning your hat and sunscreen, but that the consumption of Omega-3s might add a supplemental level of protection.While omega-3 fatty acids were shown to have only a small protective effect, the authors suggest that “fair-skinned individuals” may truly benefit from the protection conferred by these nutrients, particularly in terms of their anti-inflammatory properties.  It is important to note, however, that study participants had to consume a greater amount of omega-3 fatty acids than is typically found in the diet in order experience the “photoprotective effects” of these fatty acids. It may be argued, however, that any additional protection afforded by dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids—however minute—is important in our efforts to avoid the ill effects  of UV radiation exposure.

In summary, these studies provide promising evidence of the skin-protecting benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood.  While the amount of omega-3s consumed in typical serving sizes of fish may provide only a minor amount of additional sun protection, it is definitely worthwhile to incorporate omega-3-rich fish like wild salmon into your diet on a regular basis (at least twice per week) as part of a healthful diet and as an extra line of defense in your regular skin-protection routine.  So slather on some sunscreen, put on a hat, eat fish frequently, and go enjoy that summer sunshine!