Fat plays an important role in many body functions. Different forms of fat can be found in the diet. ALA is the main omega-3 fatty acid that naturally occurs in plant sources.
A recent study published in BMJ indicated that those who take in more ALA in the diet may have a lower death risk.
The project is a dose-response meta-analysis and systematic review. 41 studies were included in the analysis.
This research examined all-cause mortality, cancer mortality, coronary heart disease mortality, as well cardiovascular disease mortality.
An interesting fact about this project is that the scientists did not only examine ALA’s dietary intake, which has several limitations and biases but also examined adipose tissue, serum, and blood levels of ALA. This is a more objective approach to measuring the status of ALA.
The results suggested that a high intake of ALA was linked to reduced all-cause mortality. In addition, it was linked to reduced mortality risk from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
More specifically, a 1-gram increase of ALA intake was linked to a 5% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
Nevertheless, the authors also identified a slightly higher risk of cancer mortality linked to a high intake of ALA in the diet. There may be several different reasons for this finding. That’s why further research is needed to verify the results.
When it comes to levels of ALA in the blood, the authors identified that higher ALA levels were only linked to reduced risk for coronary heart disease mortality and overall mortality. They did not identify any noticeable link between cancer mortality and levels of ALA in the blood as well.
Overall, findings suggest positive effects of ALA intake and ask for further research.
The study had some drawbacks. First, the analysis only included observational studies, meaning that it is impossible to establish a causal association between mortality and ALA. In addition, some missed factors may be present and affect the final results. There may be possible errors in how the authors measure nutrients and food as well.
The analysis presented mixed results, probably because of differences in the frequency of assessments, ALA intake, and follow-up time frames.
In addition, it is important to have a wider look at the information of the project. These include the food sources as well as how those food provide various benefits.