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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad Belly Fat? Omega-3s Can Help!

I know, this time of year it is not good to talk about fat. But I think this is the best time to talk about it. With all the treats and sweets around, you can make good decisions and prevent weight gain. Plus, I have some really great recent research about how Omega-3 fatty acids can help with abdominal fat - the most dangerous kind! Just bear with me a little through the actual research. I think you will find it quite interesting...

By now most of you are aware of the health risks of abdominal obesity, or belly fat. We know that is dangerous because it can lead to inflammation - but that's just the beginning. What happens next is even worse! We start storing fat in our muscles, our liver and our pancreas. And you really don't want to store fat there. When we store fat in those tissues it leads directly to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

When we think of abdominal obesity the solution is pretty simple - weight loss and exercise. But, what do you do when you have fat organs? A recent review (Perez-Martinez et al., Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1801: 362-366, 2010) suggests that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help. Fat accumulation in the liver precedes and predicts type 2 diabetes independently of obesity and even of fat distribution - but omega-3 fatty acids appear to help. Animal studies show that omega-3 fatty acids prevent fat accumulation in the liver, and a human clinical study showed that 2g/day of omega-3 fatty acids gave a complete regression of fatty liver symptoms in 33% of patients. And, recent studies suggest that fat accumulation in heart muscle may play a role in heart failure and susceptibility to the kind of arrhythmia that can lead to sudden death following a heart attack. Again, animal studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can prevent fat accumulation in heart muscle, and human clinical studies have shown that 1-2 g/day of omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death.

I could go on, but you get the point. Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids help prevent fat build-up in our organs and that decreases the risk of several major diseases. I'm not suggesting that you eat whatever you want and rely on omega-3 fatty acids to overcome all of the health consequences of obesity. But this does give us one more reason to make sure that our diets contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. I like to eat Alaskan salmon or halibut once a week and take a daily supplement of pure fish oil, OmegaGuard.

To Your Health!



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