Eating a food rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids could reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than a third, a new review concludes.
According to the findings, published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology,individuals who had the highest blood level of linoleic acid — the major omega-6 fat — were 35 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who had the least amount.
After an analysis of almost 40,000 adults across 20 studies, researchers found that people who had higher blood levels of linoleic acid were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Linoleic acid is not formed in the body and can only be obtained from the diet and Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is no longer able to effectively use insulin — the hormone that regulates blood glucose — or when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. As a result, blood glucose levels become too high.
“Our findings suggest that a simple change in diet might protect people from developing type 2 diabetes which has reached alarming levels around the world,” said lead author Dr Jason Wu, from The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney.
For the study, the team analysed data from 20 studies involving 39,740 adults from 10 countries who were laboratory tested for levels of two key omega-6 markers – linoleic acid and arachidonic acid.
Omega-6 fatty acids should be an important part of everyone’s daily diet, since they are essential to overall health. Health experts have emphasised its importance from time to time and decades of research have been devoted to discovering the many health benefits of omega-6.
Linoleic acid was associated with lower risk, while levels of arachidonic acid were not significantly associated with either higher or lower risk of diabetes.
Some previous studies have raised concerns that omega-6 may have negative health effects, such as inflammation leading to the increased risk of chronic diseases.