According to a new study, diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids protect the liver from damage caused by obesity and the insulin resistance it provokes.
The findings are important to clinicians for providing education to obese patients about how to prevent medical complications of obesity, while guiding weight loss.
"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," stated Joan Claria, a professor from the University of arcelona and one of the researchers involved in the work.
The researchers found that two types of lipids in omega-3 fatty acids-protectins and resolvins-were the cause of the protective effect.
To reach this conclusion, 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 researchers found that the mice given the omega-3-rich diet exhibited less hepatic inflammation and improved insulin tolerance. This was due to the formation of protectins and resolvins from omega-3 fatty acids.
Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said:
"Doctors are always looking for simple and easy ways to counter the harmful effects of obesity, and the great thing about this study is that the information can be used at dinner tonight."
"It's not unlikely that eating lots more fish or a simple switch to canola oil will make a difference," Weissmann added.
The study is published online in The FASEB Journal.