Increasing intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) appears to have no effect on the risk of developing diabetes, according to the results of a recent analysis.
To determine the effects of omega-3, omega-6, and total PUFA intake on diabetes and glucose metabolism, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of data from 83 randomized controlled trials on the effects of increasing α-linolenic acid, long chain omega-3, omega-6, or total PUFA that also collected data on diabetes diagnosis, fasting glucose, HbA1c, and/or homoeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).
Overall, they found that long chain omega-3 had virtually no effect on the likelihood of diabetes (relative risk 1.00) or measures of glucose metabolism (HbA1c mean difference −0.02%,; plasma glucose 0.04; fasting insulin 1.02; HOMA-IR 0.06). The effects of α-linolenic acid, omega-6, and total PUFA on diagnosis of diabetes were unclear, and their effects on glucose metabolism were negligible.
“This is the most extensive systematic review of trials to date to assess effects of polyunsaturated fats on newly diagnosed diabetes and glucose metabolism, including previously unpublished data following contact with authors. Evidence suggests that increasing omega-3, omega-6, or total PUFA has little or no effect on prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
Brown TJ, Brainard J, Song F, et al. Omega-3, omega-6, and total dietary polyunsaturated fat for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials [published online August 21, 2019]. BMJ. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4697