Polyunsaturated Fat Slows Development of Diabetes

Reducing saturated fat intake or replacing it with polyunsaturated fats helps slow development of diabetes, according to new research

As a result of over-nutrition, type 2 diabetes is a growing issue around the world. However, little research has investigated the connection of macronutrients on the development of diabetes. Therefore, researchers aimed to identify the effect of dietary fatty acid intake on fasting and 2-hour plasma glucose concentrations.

This is the first study to investigate the effects on prediabetes as 2 separate conditions: in one condition, the muscles can’t absorb glucose, and in the other, the liver produces too much glucose.

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To conduct their study, researchers followed various participants, including 23 obese, 14 athletic, and 15 healthy participants and 10 participants with prediabetes and 11 participants with type 2 diabetes.

Participants reported their habitual diets using a food frequency questionnaire and took an oral glucose tolerance test.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats slowed the progress of diabetes in patients whose muscles can’t absorb glucose. In addition, reducing saturated fat levels slowed the progress of diabetes in patients whose liver produced too much glucose.

“In summary, major findings from the current study demonstrate that dietary saturated fat intake corresponded to higher fasting and normal 2-hour plasma glucose (2hPG) concentration, whereas dietary trans fats and polyunsaturated fat had opposing effects that were limited to processes regulating 2hPG,” researchers concluded. “Our findings raise the possibility that dietary advice targeted to the specific pathophysiological defects in both impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance could increase the effectiveness of traditional lifestyle modification programs.”

—Amanda Balbi


Guess N, Perreault L, Kerege A, Strauss A, Bergman BC. Dietary fatty acids differentially associate with fasting versus 2-hour glucose homeostasis: Implications for the management of subtypes of prediabetes. PLoS One. Published March 21, 2016. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150148.