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. Kelley and co-investigators are helping uncover new details about how these fish-oil components help protect us from chronic diseases.

Kelley is with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California-Davis. ARS is the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

In an early study with laboratory mice, Kelley and colleagues investigated the interplay of two from –DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)–and a third fatty acid, CLA (as trans-10, cis-12 CLA) found in some dietary supplements.

Kelley's 8-week test with 50 laboratory mice indicated that DHA protected the animals against two harmful side effects of CLA: CLA-induced insulin resistance and CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease. In contrast, EPA offered only partial protection against CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and provided no protection against insulin resistance.

If untreated, insulin resistance can lead to diabetes. An estimated 36 million to 57 million Americans are insulin-resistant. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can result in cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. The study appeared in a 2007 issue of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.

In related work, published in a 2009 article in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, Kelley and University of California-Davis graduate student Dawn Fedor reviewed results from several dozen EPA and DHA studies. In their review, the scientists indicate that findings reported in the past decade have been inconsistent in regard to the effects of EPA and DHA on in human volunteers.

Their review underscores the need for new investigations, with larger numbers of volunteers. Kelley, for example, would like to determine whether DHA can improve the ability of adult, pre-diabetic volunteers to use insulin efficiently, and thus help delay onset of diabetes. Such research might reveal more about the mechanisms of action that DHA and EPA use, the sites upon which they act in the human body, and the genes that control these mechanisms.

Explore further: Making radiation-proof materials for electronics, power plants

More information: Read more about the research in the October 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available online at: www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/oct10/nutrition1010.htm

Provided by United States Department of Agriculture

4.5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

3 hours ago

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

5 hours ago

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

World's first successful visualisation of key coenzyme

5 hours ago

Japanese researchers have successfully developed the world's first imaging method for visualising the behaviour of nicotine-adenine dinucleotide derivative (NAD(P)H), a key coenzyme, inside cells. This feat ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature

Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs.

A greener source of polyester—cork trees

On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out ...

How kids' brain structures grow as memory develops

Our ability to store memories improves during childhood, associated with structural changes in the hippocampus and its connections with prefrontal and parietal cortices. New research from UC Davis is exploring ...

Gate for bacterial toxins found

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Aktories and Dr. Panagiotis Papatheodorou from the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology of the University of Freiburg have discovered the receptor responsible ...