The human metabolic syndrome and its frequent sequela, type 2 diabetes are epidemic around the world. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, 18:3 n-3), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5 n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6 n-3) consumption ameliorates some of these epidemics' features thus leading one to question if consumption of EPA and DHA, and their metabolic precursor ALA reduce the conversion of metabolic syndrome to type 2 diabetes and reduce the major cause of death in the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes-myocardial infarction.

Contributing to myocardial infarction are metabolic syndrome's features of dyslipidemia (including elevated total cholesterol and LDL-c), oxidation, inflammation, hypertension, glucose intolerance, overweight and obesity. Inflammation, glucose and lipid levels are variously influenced by disturbances in various adipocytokines which are in turn positively impacted by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid consumption.

Type 2 diabetes has all these features though elevated total cholesterol and LDL-c are rarer. It is concluded that EPA and DHA consumption significantly benefits metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes primarily in terms of dyslipidemia (particularly hypertriglyceridemia) and platelet aggregation with their impact on blood pressure, glucose control, inflammation and oxidation being less established.

There is some evidence that EPA and/or DHA consumption, but no published evidence that ALA reduces conversion of metabolic syndrome to type 2 diabetes and reduces death rates due to metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. ALA's only published significance appears to be platelet aggregation reduction in type 2 diabetes.

PMID 17898498

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