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Eating Fish Could Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

Two studies coming out of Asia—one from the Shanghai Cancer Institute in Shanghai, China and one from the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo, Japan—suggest that the omega 3 fatty-acids found in fish may significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in both men and women.

The Chinese study, done in collaboration with researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, was published in the August 2011 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The Japanese study will appear in the September 2011 issue of the same journal.

The first study examined data collected from 51,963 men and 64,193 women in Shanghai, China, who were free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer at the onset of the study. All of the participants were considered to be in the “middle aged” stage of life.

After controlling for dietary and lifestyle factors, the researchers found that eating fish, shellfish, and other long chain omega 3 fatty-acids reduced the risk of diabetes in women by up to 20%. Men showed slightly different results, with only the consumption of shellfish resulting in a reduced risk of diabetes of up to 34%.

Similarly, the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study included 22,921 men and 29,759 women between the ages of 45 and 75. At the onset of the study all of the participants filled out a 147 item food-frequency questionnaire.

Over the course of five years, the scientists followed up with the participants and recorded diabetes diagnoses in 572 men and 399 women. They found that men who consumed the most small and medium sized fish were 32% less likely to develop diabetes. However, they found no benefits for women.

The scientists in both studies believe that the omega 3 fatty-acids found in fish are the mechanism behind these impressive health benefits. Omega 3s from fish oil have been making news recently with numerous health benefits, including improved cognitive health, improved cholesterol levels, improved vision, and even better moods.

If you’re looking to add more omega 3s to your diet, consider eating a darker fish (such as salmon, eel, or mackerel) once daily. If you’re finding it difficult to work that much fish into your daily routine or are concerned about the mercury content of some fish, try adding a high quality, purity tested supplement.

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