Fatty acids (FAs) have been related to changes in glucose and lipid metabolism. In this article, the authors assess the association between intake of specific FAs and components of the metabolic syndrome (MS) in adult Eskimos.

A total of 691 Inupiat Eskimos (325 men and 366 women), aged 34 to 75 years, were examined as part of the Genetics of Coronary Artery Disease in Alaska Natives (GOCADAN) study. The investigation included a physical examination, blood pressure measurements, blood sampling under fasting conditions, 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test, and a personal interview including a validated food frequency questionnaire. Components of MS were defined according to the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel criteria.

Consumption of individual FAs showed associations with MS components. Long-chain omega-3 FAs, from fish and sea mammals, were associated with lower blood pressure, serum triglycerides, and 2-hour glucose and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting insulin, and homeostasis model assessment.

Saturated fat consumption was associated with higher triglyceride levels and blood pressure. Trans-FA consumption was associated with higher blood pressure.

Consumption of long-chain omega-3 FAs from marine sources may improve certain MS components, and thus may reduce risk for cardiovascular disease. High consumption of saturated FAs and trans-FAs may have an adverse effect on MS.