The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oils reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, says a Finnish study.
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly widespread throughout the world. Overweight is the most significant risk factor, which means that diet and other lifestyle factors play important roles in the development of Type 2 diabetes. Earlier research has established that weight management, exercise and high serum linoleic acid concentrations, among other things, are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.
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Findings on how fish consumption or long-chain omega-3 fatty acids affect the risk of diabetes, however, have been highly contradictory. A protective link has mainly been observed in Asian populations, whereas a similar link has not been observed in European or U.S. studies – and some studies have even linked a high consumption of fish to increased diabetes risk.
The study, which was conducted at the University of Eastern Finland, the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), determined the serum omega-3 fatty acid concentrations of 2,212 men between 42 and 60 years of age at the onset of the study, in 1984–1989.
During a follow-up of 19.3 years, 422 men were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Serum long-chain omega-3 fatty acid concentrations were used to divide the subjects into four categories. The risk of men in the highest serum omega-3 fatty acid concentration quarter to develop Type 2 diabetes was 33 percent lower than the risk of men in the lowest quarter.
The study, which was published in Diabetes Care, sheds new light on the association between fish consumption and the risk of Type 2 diabetes. A well-balanced diet should include at least two fish meals per week, preferably fatty fish.
Fish rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, rainbow trout, bream, herring, anchovy, sardine and mackerel. Weight management, increased exercise and a well-rounded diet built around dietary recommendations constitute the cornerstones of diabetes prevention.
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