Fish and borage/echium oil may improve metabolic syndrome biomarkers: Human data

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

Fish and borage/echium oil may improve metabolic syndrome biomarkers: Human data

Related tags: Fish oil, Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis

Supplementing the diet of people with early-stage type-2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome with fish oil or a combination of borage and echium oil may improve cholesterol levels and other biomarkers, says a new study.

Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina reported that eight weeks of supplementation with a combination of borage (Borago officinalis​ L.) and echium oil (Echium plantagineum​ L.) was associated with reductions in both total and LDL cholesterol levels.

In addition, fish oil supplementation led to improvements in HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, and hemoglobin A1c levels, a marker of long-term presence of excess glucose in the blood.

“This study has shown that short-term dietary supplementation with borage/echium oil and fish oil has the capacity to improve disease biomarkers associated with T2D/metabolic syndrome,” ​they wrote in Lipids in Health and Disease​.

“These results together with our previous observations that similar botanical oil combinations reduce eicosanoid generation in asthmatic patients [Arm et al., ​Lipids Health Dis, 2013, 12​:141] suggest that certain botanical oil combinations may have the capacity to improve a wide-range of disease biomarkers in inflammatory disorders.”

Boosting HDL

Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Harry Rice, PhD, VP of regulatory & scientific affairs for the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), told us: “The result I found most interesting was that HDL levels in subjects taking fish oil (6 grams/day EPA+DHA), but not corn oil or borage oil, increased after only four weeks. High HDL levels reduce the risk for heart disease, while low levels increase the risk.

“For years, doctors have provided patients minimal advice on increasing HDL levels. First, if you smoke, stop smoking. Second, exercise. While research investigating the effect of EPA+DHA on HDL levels is not new, the results to date have been mixed.

“While further research is necessary, it may just be that higher than normal intakes of EPA+DHA are necessary in order to yield the desired benefit.”

Study details

The North Carolina-based scientists recruited 59 subjects with early-stage type-2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome to participate in the randomized, single-blind, parallel intervention study. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: The first group acted as the control and received corn oil supplements, the second group received a combination of botanical oils from borage and echium, and the final group received fish oil supplements. All of the supplements were provided by Croda. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Results showed that the borage/echium oil combination decreased total cholesterol from 182.0 to 171.9 mg/dLand LDL cholesterol from 106.3 to 96.8 mg/dL, while the fish oil group displayed significant increases in HDL cholesterol (from 40.7 mg/dL to 43.6 mg/dL), and decreases in triglycerides from 187.2 to 156.8 mg/dL. In addition, the fish oil group displayed significant decreases in hemoglobin A1c levels.

“[T]his study suggests that a botanical oil combination, as well as fish oil, may have the capacity to reduce some risk factors associated with T2D/metabolic syndrome,” ​wrote the researchers. “Future studies utilizing longer interventions and larger sample sizes will be necessary to better understand the degree to which these supplements can impact dyslipidemia, inflammation and glucose homeostasis in patients with T2D and metabolic syndrome.”

Source: Lipids in Health and Disease
December 2014, 13​:196,  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-13-196
“The impact of polyunsaturated fatty acid-based dietary supplements on disease biomarkers in a metabolic syndrome/diabetes population”
Authors: T.C. Lee, P. Ivester, A.G. Hester, S. Sergeant, L.D. Case, T. Morgan, E.O. Kouba, F.H. Chilton

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