1. Omega-3 fatty acids are “good fats” found in fatty fish and in supplements from health food stores that reduce inflammation and help promote heart healthy. Getting omega-3s through diet or supplements is a good idea for most people, but if you have diabetes, there’s even more reason to add these healthy fats to your diet. Here are reasons you should talk to your doctor about omega-3s if you’re diabetic.
2. Diabetes and Omega-3: Can They Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy?
In a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers found omega-3s may prevent diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in people with diabetes. Retinopathy comes from damage to the tiny blood vessels in the eyes from years of high blood sugars. The vessels become weak and start leaking, and these weaker vessels start increasing in number, which causes visual changes that can eventually lead to blindness. In mice, omega-3s stop this abnormal growth of blood vessels and slows down or stops the progression of retinopathy. More studies are needed to see whether omega-3s prevent diabetic retinopathy in humans, but it looks promising. Omega-3s are safe for most people, except for those on blood thinners.
3. More Omega-3 Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Most type 2 diabetics are insulin resistant, meaning their cells don’t respond well to the insulin they produce. Improving insulin sensitivity makes it easier for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels. According to a study published in Diabetes Research, supplementing with 3 grams of omega-3s a day for two months improved insulin sensitivity in 6 people with type 2 diabetics. Omega-3s seem to act on proteins that some diabetes medications target. This may help diabetics lower their blood sugar levels.
4.Diabetes and Omega-3: Prevention of Diabetic Heart Disease
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in people with diabetes. Omega-3s lower the risk of heart disease in diabetics in several different ways. Taking three grams of omega-3s in supplemental form helps to reduce triglyceride levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels (the good cholesterol).
Elevated triglycerides are a common problem in diabetics, and it increases their risk of heart disease. Omega-3s also reduce inflammation in blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack and keep platelets from clumping together to form a clot. This all bodes well for heart health.
The Bottom Line?
When it comes to diabetes and omega-3, taking an omega-3 supplement may be smart medicine. Be sure to ask your doctor before starting an omega-3 supplement. Certain people shouldn’t be on them, especially people taking blood thinners and those with a history of bleeding problems. Talk to your doctor about this.
Diabetes Res. 1987 Mar;4(3):141-7.
Medscape.com. “Prescription Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Their Lipid Effects: Omega-3 Fatty Acids: TG-lowering Mechanisms”
Eurekalert.org. “Omega-3s: More Evidence for Their Benefit”