Fish and diabetes

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Improve Heart Health

By CP Staff

According to a new study, omega-3 fatty acids may benefit cardiovascular health in diabetic patients.

Diabetes affects 23.6 million Americans and is increasing in prevalence. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is characterized by insufficient insulin production or inability of cells to utilize the insulin being produced.

Research indicates that homocysteine and malondialdehyde are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the major cause of death in diabetic patients. Increased serum levels of the amino acid homocysteine are correlated with atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and coronary artery disease, regardless of cholesterol levels. Malondialdehyde is produced primarily from lipid peroxidation and is used as a reliable marker of oxidative stress.

A new study evaluated the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on homocysteine and malondialdehyde levels in diabetic subjects. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 81 subjects with type 2 diabetes were given three grams of omega-3 fatty acids or a placebo daily for 2 months. The omega-3 fatty acid supplementation provided 1,548 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 828 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and 338 mg of other omega-3 fatty acids. The subjects were evaluated for their serum levels of hemoglobin A1c, homocysteine, malondialdehyde, C-reactive protein (CRP), total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and fasting blood sugar at the beginning of the study and again after 2 months. Hemoglobin A1c is a blood test to measure long-term blood sugar control. CRP is an inflammatory marker often used to evaluate cardiovascular disease risk.

The results showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation significantly decreased levels of homocysteine in the diabetic subjects compared to the control group. Homocysteine levels decreased by 3.10 micromoles per liter, or approximately 22 percent, from the initial levels measured at the beginning of the study. The control group showed a decrease of less than one percent from the initial levels. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acid group showed a decrease in hemoglobin A1c levels by 0.75 percent while the placebo group showed an increase in hemoglobin A1c levels of 0.26 percent. There was no change in fasting blood sugar, malondialdehyde, CRP, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol.

According to the researchers, “The consumption of omega-3 fatty acid supplements (3g/day) for 2 months decreases the levels of homocysteine in diabetic patients with no change in FBS [fasting blood sugar], MDA [malondialdehyde] and CRP levels.”


Pooya S, Jalali MD, Jazayery AD, Saedisomeolia A, Eshraghian MR, Toorang F. The efficacy of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on plasma homocysteine and malondialdehyde levels of type 2 diabetic patients. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Jun 18. Published Online Ahead of Print.

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