If You Want To Live Longer, Eat More Small Fish Whole Study Says
Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

If You Want To Live Longer, Eat More Small Fish Whole Study Says

Forget avocados or kale, small fish may be the next superfood fad. It turns out if you want to live longer, you should eat more small fish. However, there's a catch. You have to eat the small fish whole. We're talking head, bones, and all. According to a new study out of Japan, that may lower your risk of cancer and other fatal diseases.

"Previous studies have revealed the protective effect of fish intake on health outcomes, including mortality risks. However, few studies have focused on the effect of the intake of small fish specifically on health outcomes," lead researcher Dr. Chinatsu Kasahara of Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine said in a statement.

So we're not saying go eat a can of sardines and try to stop a speeding bullet. However, researchers conducted the study on 80,802 people between 35 and 69. They were divided into four groups based on how often they consume small fish — rarely, one to three times a month, one to two times a week and more than three times a week. After nine years, 2,482 participants died, including 1,495 from cancer.

Small Fish Diet

They found that those who ate small fish one to three times a month were less likely to die than those who didn't. "Small fish can be a component of a healthy diet," the researchers wrote in their findings. "They are a good source of micronutrients such as [calcium], vitamins and fatty acids when consumed with bones and organs."

So why is that? Well researchers believe that the small fish have nutrients that help, specifically omega-3 fatty acids and "anti-tumor effects of vitamins A and D." It helps to keep you healthy. Researchers mainly found this benefit in women. However, researchers noted that male subjects were more limited. Researchers also didn't consider the portion size of the fish. However, researchers believe that the study is promising.

"Small fish are easy for everyone to eat, and they can be consumed whole, including the head, bones, and organs," Kasahara said. "The inverse relationship between the intake of small fish and the mortality risk in women underscores the importance of these nutrient-dense foods in people's diets."