According to the findings from a 2008 study conducted in France, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids could reduce fat mass in diabetics, as well as improving blood lipid levels associated with the formation of arterial plaque.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to a wide-range of health benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and certain cancers, good development of a baby during pregnancy, joint health, and improved behaviour and mood.
Diabetes diet: Assessing the results
The researchers, led by Morvarid Kabir from France’s INSERM, randomly assigned the 27 female volunteers to receive either daily supplements of fish oil (three grams, providing 1.8 grams of omega-3) or placebo (paraffin oil) for two months. The subjects did not show signs of high triglyceride (blood fat) levels.
At the end of the study, Kabir and co-workers report significant reductions in total fat mass and the diameter of fat cells beneath the surface of the skin (subcutaneous adipocytes) in the omega-3, but not the placebo, group.
Moreover, risk factors for plaque formation in the arteries (atherogenic markers), such as triacylglycerol levels and the ration of triacylglycerol to HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, were significantly lower as a result of omega-3 supplementation, indicating considerable cardiovascular benefits for the women.
Commenting on the findings the researchers said: ‘A subset of inflammation-related genes was reduced in subcutaneous adipose tissue after the fish oil, but not the placebo.
No significant changes occurred in insulin sensitivity measures.
‘A moderate dose of omega-3 PUFAs for two months reduced adiposity and atherogenic markers without deterioration of insulin sensitivity in subjects with type-2 diabetes’, concluded the researchers.
Some adipose tissue inflammation-related genes were also reduced. These beneficial effects could be linked to morphologic and inflammatory changes in adipose tissue.
Only recently, researchers from the University of Colorado at Denver reported that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources may protect children at high risk of type-1 diabetes from developing the disease.
An estimated 19 million people are affected by type-2 diabetes in the EU 25, equal to four per cent of the total population. This figure is projected to increase to 26 million by 2030.
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JAMA, Vol. 298, pp. 1420-1428