It's no fish tale: Omega-3 fatty acids prevent medical complications of obesity

Feb 12, 2009

According to a recent study published online in The FASEB Journal, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids protect the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it provokes. This research should give doctors and nutritionists valuable information when recommending and formulating weight-loss diets and help explain why some obese patients are more likely to suffer some complications associated with obesity. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in canola oil and fish.

"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," stated Joan Claria, a professor from the University of Barcelona and one of the researchers involved in the work.

The scientists found that two types of lipids in omega-3 fatty acids—protectins and resolvins—were the cause of the protective effect. To reach this conclusion, they studied four groups of mice with an altered gene making them obese and diabetic. One group was given an omega-3-enriched diet and the second group was given a control diet. The third group was given docosahexaenoic acid, and the fourth received only the lipid resolvin. After five weeks, blood serum and liver samples from the test mice were examined. The mice given the omega-3-rich diet exhibited less hepatic inflammation and improved insulin tolerance. This was due to the formation of protectins and resolvins from omega-3 fatty acids.

"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," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "It's not unlikely that eating lots more fish or a simple switch to canola oil will make a difference."

More information: Ana González-Périz, Raquel Horrillo, Natàlia Ferré, Karsten Gronert, Baiyan Dong, Eva Morán-Salvador, Esther Titos, Marcos Martínez-Clemente, Marta López-Parra, Vicente Arroyo, and Joan Clària. Obesity-induced insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis are alleviated by -3 fatty acids: a role for resolvins and protectins. doi:10.1096/fj.08-125674. www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.08-125674v1

On the web: www.fasebj.org

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Early detection and transplantation provide best outcomes for 'bubble boy' disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Got fish? Nutrition studies explore health benefits

Oct 08, 2010

Some of America's most popular fish--salmon and albacore tuna, for example--are rich in healthful natural compounds known as omega-3 fatty acids. Ongoing studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist Darshan S. ...

Why fish oils work swimmingly against diabetes

Sep 02, 2010

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified the molecular mechanism that makes omega-3 fatty acids so effective in reducing chronic inflammation and insulin resistance.

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in understanding of important blood protein

1 hour ago

The human body contains a unique protein that has the unusual property of destroying itself after a few hours of existence - it must therefore be continually recreated and is no stable protein. The protein, ...

Key to aging immune system is discovered

2 hours ago

There's a good reason people over 60 are not donor candidates for bone marrow transplantation. The immune system ages and weakens with time, making the elderly prone to life-threatening infection and other ...

Putting a number on pain

2 hours ago

"How much pain are you in?" It's a harder question than many people think. Tools for assessing patients' pain—be they children or adults—rely on perception: a subjective measure that eludes quantification ...

New infections cause dormant viruses to reactivate

2 hours ago

The famous slogan is "A diamond is forever," but that phrase might be better suited to herpes: Unlike most viruses, which succumb to the immune system's attack, herpes remains in the body forever, lying in wait, sometimes ...

User comments : 0