Omega-three fatty acids and diabetes

 
By • Published: January 18th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Omega-three fatty acids have long been touted for their heart-healthy and brain-boosting benefits. Consider cod liver oil, fortified infant formula and enriched eggs.

Now a study of nearly eighteen-hundred children at risk for type-one diabetes has found that consuming more dietary omega-threes reduces the likelihood the body will begin attacking its own insulin-producing cells.

Researchers published the findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Type-one diabetes is on the rise… a jump that coincides with changes in food manufacturing that have led to a decline in omega-three fatty acids in the diet and an increase in the content of omega-six fatty acids.

Scientists evaluated whether increased intake of omega-threes would be associated with prevention of or delay in the emergence of autoantibodies in the blood. These substances signal the immune system is targeting insulin-producing cells.

Participants were all at higher risk for type-one diabetes and were evaluated until they were, on average, six years old.

Their parents were asked annually to report what they ate, including how often they consumed canned tuna, dark-meat fish such as salmon and other seafood, and also what kind of fat was used in cooking. Blood samples also were taken.

It’s much too soon to say whether omega-threes will someday become a key component of an anti-diabetes diet. But kids in the study who had a higher intake of omega-threes had a significantly lower risk of developing autoantibodies… sweet news indeed.