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Scientists Discover New Type of Fat That May Help Reduce Risk of Diabetes

Through a combination of animal and human studies, researchers have uncovered a new type of fat molecule that they’re classifying as “good fats” due to their ability to enhance insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

The new fats are called fatty acid hydroxy fatty acids (FAHFAs) and the researchers originally noted that they were lower in humans who were in the early stages of diabetes and much higher in mice who had diabetes-resistant genes.

The researchers then tested the effect of feeding FAHFAs to mice with the equivalent of type-2 diabetes and found that it lowered their high blood sugar. They next measured FAHFA levels in insulin-resistant humans and found they had lower FAHFA levels in their fat and blood. This led them to conclude that changes in FAHFA levels may play a part in the development of diabetes.

The researchers also suggested that low FAHFA levels might be an early marker for diabetes risk because it is possible to detect low levels before diabetes develops.

Researchers from the Salk Institute and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center conducted the study. It was published on October 9, 2014, in the journal Cell.

Unlike other beneficial fatty acids such as omega-3s, FAHFAs are actually produced in the human body. They can also be found in many fruits, egg yolks, beef, and chicken. Because they seem to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as helping combat the symptoms of diabetes, the researchers in this study hypothesized that they could potentially be used to combat inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

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