Insulin resistance, which is closely tied to obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD), leads to a wide range of clinical and biochemical disorders, including hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, abnormal carbohydrate metabolism, blood coagulation and fibrinolysis, non alcoholic hepatic steatosis and dyslipidemia, the latter being characterized by high triglyceride levels, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, and an increased number of small dense particles of low-density lipoprotein.

Pathophysiological studies underscore the direct role of postprandial hyperlipidemia in the formation of atheroma plaque. Diet, interacting with genetic factors, may also have a significant influence on the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes and CVD.

In this review, we examine the potential of omega-3 fatty acids : to correct postprandial lipid disorders (by reducing chylomicron secretion and altering the expression of genes involved in intestinal lipid metabolism); to control hepatic lipid metabolism and to reduce the risk of non alcoholic hepatic steatosis; and to provide a genetic substrate and environment during fetal development that will help prevent vascular disorders later in life.