Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been shown to lower triglyceride levels, inflammatory biomarkers, and cardiovascular risk. Data related to PUFAs and risk for diabetes has been inconsistent, perhaps due to imprecise evaluations related to dietary self-reports. Investigators looked at data obtained from a cohort (n = 2,212) of men enrolled in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study in order to see if serum levels of omega-3 PUFAs [ i.e., eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)] were associated with risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). After a mean follow-up of over 19 years, 422 men developed diabetes based on diagnoses made with glucose tolerance testing. Those with serum biomarkers of EPA + DPA + DHA in the highest quartile had a 33% lower risk for T2DM as compared to men whose serum biomarkers of these PUFAs fell in the lowest quartile. No such association was seen with ALA.
Reference: Virtanen JK, Mursu J, Voutilainen S, et al. Serum omega-3 poloyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of incident type 2 diabetes in men: The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study Diabetes Care 2014;37:189-196.