According to a comprehensive new study, adopting a plant-based diet adds years—even more than a decade—to the average person’s life expectancy. Those who make the switch as young adults experience the greatest longevity gains. But even for older people, the perks of a plant-based diet are significant. We’ve heard it for years, meat wreaks havoc on our health. Ditching meat alone already adds years to your life and eating a diet rich in healthful foods like whole grains, beans, and nuts can add even more.
Plant-based and life expectancy
In this recent study from the University of Bergen, Norway, Professor Lars Fadnes, Ph.D., and his team of researchers used data on premature death from more than 7,000 doctors and scientists around the globe, compiled in the Global Burden of Disease, to model the effects of diet on life expectancy. They found the optimal diet is one of legumes, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruit. Fadnes and his associates confirmed previous findings from Cornell and Northwestern Universities, the American Heart Association, the American Osteopathic Association, and the British Medical Journal, all of which show that plant-based diets fuel longer lives.
The science seems to be clear: the more plant-based nutrition in one’s life, the longer the lifespan.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that a plant-based diet adds years to one’s life when considering such foods are better for your heart, your brain and your overall health.
Drivers: Omega-3s & the environment
Interest in omega-3s appears to be growing in these extraordinary times when global health is of chief concern. Omegas have traditionally been touted for providing benefits for brain, heart, and eye health. A report from FMCG Gurus, which explores how the current global health situation has impacted consumer behavior, reported a surprising 79% of consumers associate omega-3s with supporting immune function.
According to a report from MarketsandMarkets, the omega-3 market is projected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 13.1% to reach US$8.52 billion by 2025 from $4.07 billion in 2019. Increasing consumer awareness about the health benefits of omega-3 may significantly contribute to the growth of the market.
Demographically speaking, experts like Greg Cumberford, vice president of science and regulatory for Nature’s Crops International, are noticing that younger consumers, notably the youngest Gen Z consumers who are just now becoming adults, are factoring their eco-social concerns into their purchasing decisions.
“Ultimately, consumer demand is growing because of the results consumers are seeing and how these are being shared on social media,” he said. “In addition to real-life health outcomes, people are becoming more concerned about sustainability––connecting the dots between personal and planetary wellness. People are seeking more vegetarian supplement alternatives that retain their complete, balanced and holistic connection to raw natural sources, instead of highly standardized biochemical fractions.”
In 2020, nearly half (48%) of all consumers factored environmental sustainability in their purchasing choices, as reported in Vitafood Insights’ 2020 sustainable supply chain report.
“Consumer experience, awareness, and science are combining to strengthen support for plant-based omegas,” Cunberland concluded. “Trending consumer dietary behaviors (vegan, Mediterranean, paleo, keto, etc.) will continue driving demand for clean-label, fresh, traceable, healthy ingredients like Ahiflower oil.
The mega omega
Ahiflower oil contains the richest, most complete and balanced omega fatty acid profile available from a farmed oilseed crop, and it is taking the omega-3 segment by storm. As more consumers seek out plant-based alternatives to animal/marine omega-3s, ahiflower finds itself at the forefront of the emerging trend as more natural product brands are incorporating it into their product launches.
Derived from elite cultivars of Buglossoides arvensis, a hedgerow plant in the Boraginaceae family that is native to the United Kingdom, ahiflower oil is different from fish oil in that it is converted in the body into biologically active forms of fatty acids, a source of energy in the body and primary constituents of cell membranes. It contains the only two essential fatty acids: the omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 linoleic acid (LA). These two are essential because we must get them from our diet since our bodies do not make them. Ahiflower is also a rich source of stearidonic acid (SDA), which is converted ultimately to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is then converted to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) through the omega-3 metabolic pathway. However, gamma linolenic acid (GLA), is not part of that process. GLA converts to DGLA, a very beneficial omega-6 fatty acid.
Ahiflower oil is an excellent source of all four of the most critical and beneficial precursor omega-3s and omega-6s: ALA, SDA, LA and GLA.
Not only does ahiflower check the plant-based box for consumers, but unlike many omega sources, it also meets the demand for sustainability. The crops are farmed regeneratively and traceably, and since it is not a marine-based omega source, its use takes pressure off wild marine forage species that dominate the omega-3 supply chain. It is grown exclusively by a network of independent U.K. farmers under contract with Natures Crops International, which has spent decades developing elite cultivars and horticultural practices that make ahiflower oil’s quality so unique while giving back more to soil fertility and pollinators than it takes and supporting rural farmland biodiversity.
There is no question that the nutrition industry is evolving due to the massive shifts in lifestyle and dietary choices of consumers globally. From the mindfulness of sustainable and traceable products to trends in shifting away from meat, consumers are reprioritizing their must haves and taking actions on their desires to help reduce the global carbon footprint. As more consumers become aware of how they can help support the oceans through making a small change to their dietary supplement regimen, we will most likely see the demand for plant-based omega alternatives disrupt the omega industry.
Jacqueline Rizo is a content writer who specializes in B2B articles and white papers for the natural products industry on behalf of Stratum Nutrition.