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Some of America's most popular fish--salmon and albacore tuna, for example--are rich in healthful natural compounds known as omega-3 fatty acids. Ongoing studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) chemist Darshan S. Kelley and co-investigators are helping uncover new details about how these fish-oil components help protect us from chronic diseases.
Kelley is with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California-Davis. ARS is the USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.
In an early study with laboratory mice, Kelley and colleagues investigated the interplay of two omega-3 fatty acids from fish oilDHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)and a third fatty acid, CLA (as trans-10, cis-12 CLA) found in some dietary supplements.
Kelley's 8-week test with 50 laboratory mice indicated that DHA protected the animals against two harmful side effects of CLA: CLA-induced insulin resistance and CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease. In contrast, EPA offered only partial protection against CLA-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and provided no protection against insulin resistance.
If untreated, insulin resistance can lead to diabetes. An estimated 36 million to 57 million Americans are insulin-resistant. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can result in cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. The study appeared in a 2007 issue of Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.
In related work, published in a 2009 article in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, Kelley and University of California-Davis graduate student Dawn Fedor reviewed results from several dozen EPA and DHA studies. In their review, the scientists indicate that findings reported i
|Contact: Marcia Wood|
United States Department of Agriculture -- Research, Education and Economics