Eating fish could help you live at least two years longer, claim researchers.
Older people who have higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and seafood cut their risk of dying prematurely by a quarter.
U.S. scientists also found the risk of dying from heart disease was reduced by one third compared with adults who had lower blood levels of fatty acids.
It is the first study to check for levels of fish consumption and link them with death rates.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the University of Washington found adults aged 65 and with the highest blood levels of the fatty acids lived, on average, 2.2 years longer than those with the lowest levels.
Lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH, said: ‘Although eating fish has long been considered part of a healthy diet, few studies have assessed blood omega-3 levels and total deaths in older adults.
‘Our findings support the importance of adequate blood omega-3 levels for cardiovascular health, and suggest that later in life these benefits could actually extend the years of remaining life.’
Fish provides omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain development and which are also thought to reduce inflammation of the brain, cardiovascular system and other cells.
But surveys suggest nine out of ten children and two-thirds of adults in Britain never eat it.
Previous studies have found that fish reduces the risk of dying from heart disease, and fish oil supplements are sometimes taken for this reason.