The relation of omega-3 fatty acids with the risk of type 2 diabetes

The relation of omega-3 fatty acids with the risk of type 2 diabetes

A study in the journal BMJ has assessed the relation of omega-3 Fatty acids (n-3 FA) with type 2 diabetes. It has found that increasing the amount of n-3 FA in the diet may have little or no effect on the risk of diabetes (type 2).

Increasing dietary omega-3 fatty acids has little or no effect on glucose metabolism

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a major cause of death all over the world. Globally, it has affected more than 400 million adults. And it costs about 800 billion U.S. dollars annually.

T2D also increases the risk of many other diseases like CVDs, kidney failure, and blindness. An increase in body fat and physical inactivity are the leading causes of diabetes. So, body weight and diet of a person play a key role in the cure and delay of diabetes.

In the past, the results of many studies have shown that PUFAs present in fish oil (n-3 FA) and plants (n-3 and n-6 FA) can provide many health benefits. These PUFAs may protect the body against type 2 diabetes, but still, the results are uncertain.

Many countries in the world suggest a diet high in PUFAs to prevent many health issues, like diabetes. In this study, the research team has analyzed the relation of omega-3 fatty acids with the risk of type 2 diabetes.

For further analysis, the research team has reviewed the results of 83 randomized trials, all with at least a 6-month duration. It has also assessed the quality of evidence in the case of each trial. These trials include 121,070 persons with and without diabetes.

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These trials have studied how increasing long-chain omega-3 (LCn3), omega-6 FA, or total PUFAs can affect the diabetes diagnosis. And also, how these PUFAs taken from natural foods or supplements can alter glucose metabolism.

The team has found that an increase in LCn3 FAs (2g daily over an average time of 33 months) has a little or no effect on the metabolism of glucose. And the effect of all these fatty acids on diabetes diagnosis was unclear due to the very low quality of evidence.

Omega-3 supplements shouldn’t be encouraged to control type 2 diabetes

Overall, the results of all trials have shown a little or no effect of these fats on the measures of glucose metabolism. There was also a hint that high doses of LCn3 fatty acids – more than 4.4g daily, can harm health. And it can increase the risk of diabetes. But the research team has stressed that one should interpret this result with caution.

In some trials, the team has also found some missing data and risk of bias. But still, after limiting the analysis to the trials with the highest quality, there was no effect on the risk of diabetes. These trials had the lowest chance of bias.

Up till now, this is the most extensive review that has studied the relation of omega-3 fatty acids with the risk of type 2 diabetes in randomized trials. The team hasn’t found any strong evidence showing that altering PUFAs can affect the glucose metabolism or risk of diabetes.

And it suggests that one should not promote the use of omega-3 supplements for the control of diabetes. Besides, the team has also suggested that larger and high-quality trials with a period of at least 12 months can better help to look at the effects of PUFAs on the risk of diabetes.

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Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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