Omega-3s may enhance exercise benefits for people with MetS

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock / Kras1
© iStock / Kras1

Related tags Metabolic syndrome Nutrition

A daily dose of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and oleate – a monounsatured fatty acid (MUFA) – may enhance the beneficial effects of exercise for people with metabolic syndrome.

Daily consumption of milk enriched with 275 mg of omega-3s and 7.5 g of oleate for 24 weeks resulted in significantly greater improvements in insulin sensitivity, C-reactive protein levels (a marker of inflammation), and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), compared to the other groups.

“The novel finding from this study is that dietary omega-3 + oleate supplementation improved the benefits associated with a 24-week exercise training program in patients with [metabolic syndrome],”​ wrote the researchers in Obesity​.

“While some previous studies have demonstrated the benefits of [high-intensity interval training (HIIT)] or omega-3 + oleate supplementation in patients with [metabolic syndrome] when administered separately, to our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating the additive effects of HIIT in conjunction with dietary omega -3 +  oleate supplementation. Therefore, our findings provide evidence for a therapeutic approach to help improve cardiometabolic health in patients with [metabolic syndrome] based on lifestyle modifications (exercise and dietary supplementation).”

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Study details

Scientists from the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain and Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan in the US recruited 36 people with MetS and randomly assigned them to one of two groups: 500 mL/day of semi-skim milk (placebo) or 500 mL/day of skim milk enriched with omega-3s and 7.5 g of oleate. All of the participants underwent high-intensity interval training.

Results of the double-blind randomized study indicated that measurements of blood pressure, waist circumference, and fat mass improved in both groups. However, only participants in the enriched milk group had significantly greater improvements in insulin sensitivity (increased by 31.5%), C-reactive protein (decreased by 32.1%), and HDL (increased by 10.3%).

“Our research shows for the first time the combined effects of dietary supplementation with omega-3 PUFA plus oleate and exercise on insulin sensitivity and MetS components,” ​wrote the researchers.

“In this study, we observed an improvement in the inflammatory and insulin sensitivity responses mediated by the combination of dietary supplementation and exercise (omega-3 + oleate). These benefits took place in addition to the improvements in body weight, body composition, and cardiorespiratory fitness provided by exercise alone,” ​they concluded.

Source: Obesity
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/oby.21552
“Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and oleate enhances exercise training effects in patients with metabolic syndrome”
Authors: J.F. Ortega et al.


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