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Polyunsaturated fats linked to slower progression of Type 2 diabetes

23 March 2016

New study links polyunsaturated fats to slower type 2 progression


Scientists at King’s College London published research yesterday highlighting a potential link between eating polyunsaturated fats and a slower progression of type 2 diabetes

In a study involving over 70 people, the researchers measured the levels of glucose and fatty acids in participants’ blood, while asking them about their diets – specifically, the amounts of different fats (polyunsaturated, saturated and trans) they eat. 

The participants included athletes, those with normal glucose levels, obese people, those with type 2 diabetes and people at a high risk of developing the condition

Effect not seen in everyone

They found that, in those at a high risk, eating more polyunsaturated fats, found in foods like nuts and vegetable oil, was linked to a slower development of type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, this effect wasn’t seen in all of the participants at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which could start to explain why not everyone responds to diets in the same way. 

Still early days

While this study highlights a potential link, it’s still early days. The results now need to be confirmed in larger studies before the scientists could potentially explore any direct benefits of polyunsaturated fats in a clinical trial.  

Dr Emily Burns, Research Communications Manager at Diabetes UK, says, “This study highlights an interesting link between eating polyunsaturated fats and a slower progression of type 2 diabetes in people identified as being at high risk of developing the condition. However, the link was only seen in some people, which could help to explain why certain diets don’t have the same impact on everyone. 

"Future clinical trials in greater numbers of people will be necessary before we know whether polyunsaturated fats have a positive direct effect on the development of type 2 diabetes. For now, we do know that eating a healthy balanced diet and taking part in regular exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.” 

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