Dietary fats make worms live almost 50% longer—no human results yet

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2017-04-07

The worms used in this study. You don't have to eat them to get the fats—an avocado will do. (credit: NIH)

Since well before the days of snake oil peddlers and modern Western medicine, people have been on the hunt for the next “fountain of youth,” a formula that will either keep us young or extend our lifespans. And, while there have been a number of promising discoveries, there's no pill that you can take to make you live forever (yet). But a recent study published in Nature presents a compelling argument that monounsaturated fatty acids may be the next item on the list of promising discoveries.

Monounsaturated fats are simply fats that contain just one double bond among the links between their carbon atoms. These types of fats naturally occur in several types of food products, including red meat, dairy, nuts, and high-fat plant foods such as olives and avocado. In fact, many plant and nut oils have a high monounsaturated fat content.

Over the last several decades, monounsaturated fats have occasionally been the focus of health and diet studies. For example, the Mediterranean diet, which is thought to promote longevity and cardiovascular health, is high in these fats. Additionally, monounsaturated fats appear to be associated with increases in “healthy” HDL cholesterol and decreases in unhealthy LDL cholesterol.

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