The Unique Fat That Can Reduce Your Risk Of Early Death

In 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the average life expectancy in the United States was 77.5 years, but nothing is set in stone. There are several factors that can influence how long you live. People who exercise can expect to live longer because they're less likely to suffer from age-related muscle loss, joint pain, and fatigue. Getting enough sleep, drinking in moderation (or not drinking at all), and not smoking also factor into your longevity. And, of course, maintaining a good diet is key.

Consuming certain foods can help you live longer — as the old saying goes, you are what you eat. The American diet is typically high in saturated fat, which can increase your risk of early death according to a 2021 meta-analysis in Clinical Nutrition. What's great is that you can lower your death risk by increasing the monounsaturated fats in your diet. Polyunsaturated fats improve your longevity even more, reducing your all-cause mortality risk. But where can you find them? Enter flaxseed oil, a healthy source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that studies say can reduce your risk of early death.

The healthy fat in flaxseed oil

A tablespoon of flaxseed oil provides 7.2 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is more than four times the daily recommended amount. Having more ALA in your diet through foods like flaxseed oil can reduce your early death risk according to a 2021 article in The BMJ. You can also lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. The more ALA, the better. "In the dose-response analysis, a 1 g/day increase in ALA intake was associated with a 5% lower risk of all cause and CVD mortality," reports The BMJ.

Flaxseed oil is also rich in oleic acid, which is an omega-9 fatty acid that could lower your cholesterol and reduce inflammation. A 2023 article in Nutrients said that oleic acid controls proteins that promote inflammation and activates anti-inflammatory proteins. It can also be converted into oleoylethanolamide, which can regulate your appetite. What's more, Oleic acid might play a role in controlling insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes by activating genes that help oxidize fat, per a 2020 article in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders.

Flaxseed oil also has healthy omega-6

Another great thing about flaxseed oil is that it also has 1.9 grams of linoleic acid, which is an omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 fatty acids help with cell function. They can be harmful in large amounts if you don't get enough omega-3s – some foods, such as corn chips, are high in omega-6 but low in omega-3. A diet with a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is typically associated with inflammation, especially where refined seed oils are concerned, per a 2021 article in Missouri Medicine. Luckily, this isn't something you need to worry about when it comes to flaxseed oil.

Flaxseeds have a high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which means there are more omega-3s to omega-6s. Of course, it's not that all omega-6s are bad: According to a 2019 review in Circulation, people who had diets high in linoleic acid had a 22% lower risk of cardiovascular death. They also had lower risks of cardiovascular disease and ischemic stroke. Of course, you'll want to pair flaxseed oil with fruits or vegetables to maintain a balanced diet since it doesn't provide any vitamins or minerals.