Eating lots of nuts, seeds and plant oils may cut your risk of being sent to an early grave, scientists say.
Iranian researchers reviewed dozens of studies that delved into diets and mortality rates, spanning up to three decades.
They specifically looked at the effects of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) — an omega-3 found in plants such as soy beans and flaxseeds.
Results showed people with a high intake of the nutrient — around 1.6g a day — were 10 per cent less likely to die from any cause, compared to those who consumed the lowest amounts — around 0.7g.
Deaths from heart disease were also lower among people who ate a diet rich in nuts and other ALA-abundant foods.
For every 1g increase in ALA per day – around one tablespoon of canola oil – the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease fell by five per cent, the study claimed.
However, the review also showed consuming high amounts of ALA was linked to an increased risk of dying from cancer.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, states further trials are needed to confirm the link.
Cardiovascular disease – the world's biggest killer – is behind 160,000 deaths in the UK every year and 659,000 in the US.
Alpha-linolenic acid – an omega-3 found in plants such as soy beans, nuts and flaxseeds – was found to slash the risk of overall death, as well as the risk of dying from heart and blood vessel disease
The graphs show how alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an omega-3 found in plants such as soy beans, nuts and flax seeds – intake affects the risk of death from all causes (top left), cardiovascular disease (top right), coronary heart disease (bottom left) and cancer (bottom right). A high intake of ALA was linked with a 10 per cent drop in risk of death, 11 per cent decline in the chance of dying from coronary heart disease and an eight per cent drop in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. However, the findings suggest the seeds could be linked with a slight uptick in risk from cancer, but cautioned more studies would be needed to confirm this
Earlier studies found ALA was linked with a lower risk of fatal coronary heart disease — one type of cardiovascular disease.
But a raft of others were inconclusive on whether the nutrient improved mortality.
To address the uncertainty, the Tehran University of Medical Sciences team analysed results