Fish oil benefits even the obese
A fish-rich diet is the key to Eskimos’ low rates of diabetes and heart disease, say researchers, who suggest obese Westerners, might do well to boost their fish oil consumption. A study of more than 300 Alaskan Yup'ik Eskimos found that although 70% were overweight or obese, they did not show the same risk factors for heart disease as the US population.
They also had a lower prevalence of diabetes.
After analysing blood samples, researchers found that those with the highest levels of the omega-3 fish oils docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) had the lowest triglyceride and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Recent research suggests that patients with elevated basal levels of CRP are at an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Even some of the most obese Eskimos had triglycerides and CRP concentrations that were on a par with regular-weight people, found the study, published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
"It appeared that high intakes of omega-3-rich seafood protected Yup'ik Eskimos from some of the harmful effects of obesity,” said lead author Dr Zeina Makhoul, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
However, the researchers stopped short of making recommendations on supplements, saying further studies were needed to measure outcomes with supplementation.
"If the results of such a trial were positive, it would strongly suggest that omega-3 fats could help prevent obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes," Dr Makhoul said.
The researchers analysed data from 330 people living in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta region of south-west Alaska, who typically consume around 20 times as much omega-3 fats from fish as the average American.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011
David Brill and AAP
Did you have your supplement today?
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