February 21, 2009
Increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may protect against obesity-related damage of the liver, which may lead to diabetes, says a new study published in the FASEB Journal.
"Our study shows for the first time that lipids called protectins and resolvins derived from omega-3 fatty acids can actually reduce the instance of liver complications, such as hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance, in obese people," said researcher Joan Claria from the University of Barcelona.
Researchers studied four groups of mice with an altered gene making them obese and diabetic (ob/ob mice). One group of animals was given an omega-3-enriched diet, another group was given a control diet, a third group was given DHA, and the last group received only the lipid resolvin. The interventions lasted for five weeks, after which the researchers report that mice in the omega-3-rich diet group experienced less liver inflammation and improved insulin tolerance.
Further analysis showed that the omega-3s inhibited the formation of omega-6-PUFA-derived eicosanoids, related to inflammation, while the formation of omega-3-derived resolvins and protectins was also triggered.
“Taken together, these findings uncover beneficial actions of omega -3-PUFAs and their bioactive lipid autacoids in preventing obesity-induced insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis,” concluded the researchers.
Commenting independently on the research, Gerald Weissmann, MD, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal said,"Doctors are always looking for simple and easy ways to counter the harmful effects of obesity, and the great thing about this study is that the information can be used at dinner tonight."
"It's not unlikely that eating lots more fish or a simple switch to canola oil will make a difference."