February 13, 2009

Omega-3 guards against insulin resistance

Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- from salmon and sardines -- protect the liver from damage and insulin resistance, Spanish researchers said.

Joan Claria of the University of Barcelona found that two types of lipids in omega-3 fatty acids -- protectins and resolvins -- were the cause of the protective effect. 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 inflammation and improved insulin tolerance. This was due to the formation of protectins and resolvins from omega-3 fatty acids.

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, Claria said in a statement.

The findings are published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.