A study on rats from Oregon State University on the metabolic effects of omega-3s, especially DHA, concludes that these fats might have an even wider range of biological importance than previously thought, and concludes they could be of significant value in the prevention of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Livers from rats fed either Western diets or diets enriched with olive oil were analyzed for metabolites that reflect the many biological effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the liver.
Results showed that livers from these animals showed structural and gene expression changes consistent with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. However, the livers of animals who had been fed DHA-fortified diets produced surprising results. DHA appeared to partially or totally prevent metabolic damage through those pathways often linked to the Western diet – excessive consumption of red meat, sugar, saturated fat, and processed grains. “We were shocked to find so many biological pathways being affected by omega-3 fatty acids. Most studies on these nutrients find effects on lipid metabolism and inflammation.
“Our metabolomics analysis indicates that the effects of omega-3 fatty acids extend beyond that, and include carbohydrate, amino acid and vitamin metabolism,” concluded the researchers.
Depner C, Traber M, Bobe G, et al: A metabolomic analysis of omega-3 fatty acid-mediated attenuation of Western diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in LDLR 9-/-) mice. PLoS One 2013;8:e83756.