Fatty Acids And Diabetes

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Doctors will advise you to reduce the fat content on your daily food consumption: cheese, whole milk, yogurt, butter meat and substitute with skim varieties of dairy products and lean meats, for the sake of health.

It is known that low fat diets reduces your blood lipids, such as LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and doctors stress very much its importance especially among diabetes. It is now observed that fat found in dairy products lowers the incidence of developing diabetes, a new study suggests.

Researchers in New York have observed looking at more than 3,700 US adults, those with higher blood levels of fatty acid known as trans-palmitoleic acid, there was a 60 percent less likely incidence to develop diabetes, a study carried over a period of 20 years.

The researchers examined 3,736 participants in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-funded Cardiovascular Health Study, who have been followed for 20 years in an observational study to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in older adults.

Metabolic risk factors such as blood glucose and insulin levels, and also levels of circulating blood fatty acids, including trans-palmitoleic acid, were measured using stored blood samples in 1992, and participants were followed for development of type 2 diabetes.

Such benefits may need to be weighed against the fact that full-fat dairy products having high calories could lead to weight gain, a risk factor for diabetes. Dr Darius Mozaffarian, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston is of the same opinion, and that diabetics should continue their current low fat, low glycaemic foods until further studies are carried out. However, the fact remains that dairy has some anti-diabetes properties.

"Trans-palmitoleic acid falls into the broad category of "trans-fat," which has become notorious in recent years for its links to elevated LDL cholesterol and heart disease. However, unlike the trans-fats in many processed foods, like margarine, crackers and chips, trans-palmitoleic acid is a natural fat. And so far, Mozaffarian said, research has not linked natural trans-fats in dairy and meat to an increased heart disease risk.

It may be that at least some natural trans-fats, like trans-palmitoleic acid, have health benefits, according to Mozaffarian. "I think we all have to start looking at dietary fats in a more nuanced way," he said.

At baseline, higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid were associated with healthier levels of blood cholesterol, inflammatory markers, insulin levels, and insulin sensitivity, after adjustment for other risk factors.

During follow-up, individuals with higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had a much lower risk of developing diabetes, with about a 60% lower risk among participants in the highest quintile (fifth) of trans-palmitoleic acid levels, compared to individuals in the lowest quintile.So it can be inferred from the research that dairy products and meat are not as unhealthy as was assumed in the past. There has been no clear biologic explanation for the lower risk and incidence of diabetes seen with high consumption of dairy products and meat.

Trans-palmitoleic acid being a natural occurring transfat in foods, and not being an artificially produced transfat, such as found in margarine and others presumably could be the reason of its health benefits.

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