Higher Intake of Fish and DHA/EPA and Less Metabolic Syndrome

December 6, 2010


Intake of Fish and n-3 Fatty Acids and Future Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
Baik, I. et al., J. Am. Dietetic Assoc., 110: 1018-1026 , 2010
Dept. of Foods and Nutrition , College of Natural Sciences, Kookmin University, Seoul,Republic of Korea


Those individuals with a cluster of at least three specific risk factors (abdominal obesity , elevated triglyceride levels, reduced HDL-cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure , elevated fasting blood glucose levels ) are characterized as having the metabolic syndrome and as being at considerably increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The present population-based study from Korea began with 3,504 subjects (ages 40-69) who were free of the metabolic syndrome and known cardiovascular disease at entry . They were followed and monitored for up to 4 years (72 % remained for the 4 year duration). The frequency of both fish as well as DHA/EPA intakes were monitored. Inverse relationships between both fish as well as DHA/EPA omega-3 intakes and the risk of the developing the metabolic syndrome or components therein were particularly apparent in males but not females.

The risk of developing high blood triglyceride and low HDL-cholesterol levels was 46 % and 39 % lower, respectively, in those men who consumed fish daily as compared to those who ingested less than one serving per week. Those men in the top 10 % with respect to DHA/EPA omega-3 intakes (median intake of 786 mg/day) had a 47 % lower risk of developing the metabolic syndrome as compared to those having a median intake of 37 mg/day and a 40 % lower risk than those with a median intake of 138 mg/day.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

The overall lower intakes of DHA/EPA omega-3 by the women as compared to the men may partially account for the gender differences in the outcomes. It is noted that the low median intakes (range of 37-138 mg DHA/EPA daily) in the male Korean population is within the average intake of approx. 125 mg/day in North America where fish consumption averages only one serving/week and daily intakes are rare. It will be of interest to determine if DHA/EPA via supplementation and/or functional foods can elicit some of the benefits indicated herein from fish consumption.

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