Fish Oil Lowers Triglycerides With Little or No Glycemic Effect in Type 2 Diabetics

Fish Oil Lowers Triglycerides With Little or No Glycemic Effect in Type 2 Diabetics

Last updated on June 19th, 2016

Many doctors recommend fish oil, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids, to their diabetic patients. Fish oil generally comes from cold water ocean fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. There are three different types of omega 3 fatty acids: 1) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), 2) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and 3) alpha-linolenic acid. Only the first two fatty acids are found in fish, while alpha-linolenic acid is found in non-fish sources of fatty acids (like certain vegetables).

Scientific research has indicated that people who eat a lot of omega 3 fatty acids from eating fish or taking fish oil supplements have a decreased incidence of coronary heart disease. Eskimos, who eat a lot of fish oil in their diet, have decreased triglyceride levels, decreased cholesterol levels, and decreased incidence of heart disease when compared to people who live nearby in Denmark but that eat lesser amounts of fish. Other research has pointed to the fact that people who ate fish at least once weekly had decreased death rates from heart disease than those who didn’t eat fish.

The beneficial effects of omega 3 fatty acids that have been found in research studies include these advantages:

  • People who eat a lot of omega 3 fatty acids may have decreased incidence of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the basis behind having type 2 diabetes.
  • People who ate a lot of omega 3 fatty acids have a decreased risk of heart disease, including strokes, heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and macular degeneration.
  • People who ate a lot of omega 3 fatty acids have a lesser risk of contracting certain kinds of cancer.
  • People who ate a lot of omega 3 fatty acids have a decreased risk of depression, especially if they used omega 3 fatty acid supplements and complied with other forms of treatment for depression.
  • People who ate a lot of omega 3 fatty acids can show improvement in their bipolar disease symptoms as well as in schizophrenic symptoms.

Omega 3 fatty acid supplements have also been shown to decrease the symptoms of a variety of inflammatory diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel syndrome.

Experts in omega 3 fatty acid supplementation seem to believe that a diet high in omega 3 fatty acids is good for everyone, even those who do not have diabetes. The best way to get omega 3 fatty acids is to eat fatty fish like sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, and tuna, although supplements of omega 3 fatty acids are also a good choice for people who don’t eat fish. Non-fish sources of omega 3 fatty acids include nuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, and subsidized eggs.

It is recommended that you take fish oil supplements along with eating omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. Diabetics also need to follow a low carbohydrate diabetic diet. Research has shown that diabetics who consumed a lot of omega 3 fatty acids had decreased levels of triglycerides even when their blood sugars weren’t in the best control. Unfortunately, fish oil supplements may increase the level of LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol), which may increase the risk of heart disease. Fish oil supplements can also affect the person’s ability to clot blood, leading to an increased risk of bleeding in the brain or bleeding from surgeries.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Triglycerides

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One of the best aspects of eating omega 3 fatty acids is their ability to decrease the triglyceride level. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a prescription strength fish oil called Lovaza in the management of people who suffer from familial hypertriglyceridemia, which is a genetic disorder in which the triglyceride level is extremely high, in the range of 500 mg/dL or more.

Omega 3 fatty acid consumption, regardless of the way you get it, has been shown to decrease the triglyceride level by hundreds of milligrams per deciliter, which can make the difference between getting heart disease and not getting heart disease. This means that people who have even modest increases in triglyceride level can have some benefit from taking in this type of fish oil.

Omega 3 fatty acids are unique in their triglyceride-lowering properties. The other fatty acids, such as omega 6 fatty acids, saturated fats, and monounsaturated fats, have the same effect in lowering the triglyceride level. Omega 3 fatty acids lower the triglyceride level with ten times the potency of other types of oils found in food.

Triglycerides are a type of fat that is made from three fatty acids that are connected by a sugar backbone. Triglycerides can be found in the blood, the liver, and in other organs of the body. Fatty acids don’t float freely in the body but instead are bound to lipoproteins that are water soluble and compatible with being in the bloodstream.

When triglyceride levels reach more than 100 mg/dL, they make contact with other substances in the bloodstream and cause these substances to become distorted. Elevated triglyceride levels are the reason why small LDL particles develop. Small LDL particles are especially dangerous because they oxidize easily and are the basis behind getting heart disease. Elevated triglyceride levels can be found in diets that are high in carbohydrates.

Omega 3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil reduce triglyceride levels by doing the following:

  • Increase the elimination from the bloodstream of VLDL fats and chylomicrons
  • Decrease the production of VLDL fats in the liver
  • Activate enzymes that convert fatty acids into cellular energy sources.

Fatty acids from fish oil are cheap to purchase and should be the first thing to try when a person has high triglyceride levels. While there are many different triglyceride-lowering medications, omega 3 fatty acids are the least expensive and may do the trick without having to resort to taking medications that are much more expensive than fish oil.

Carbohydrates, such as those found in sugars, flour, and cornstarch, are known to increase VLDL levels in the liver, increasing triglyceride levels. This means that, when triglyceride levels are high, both the taking of omega 3 fatty acids and a low cholesterol diet should be considered to keep the triglyceride level as low as possible.

References:

  • 1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/definitions/omega-3-fatty-acids/. Accessed 5/10/16.
  • 2. How does fish oil reduce triglycerides? http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/c/7986/94321/triglycerides/. Accessed 5/10/16.
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