Effect of fish oil versus corn oil supplementation on LDL and HDL subclasses in type 2 diabetic patients

Diabetes Care. 2002 Oct;25(10):1704-8. doi: 10.2337/diacare.25.10.1704.


Objective: The increased risk of coronary heart disease associated with type 2 diabetes may be partially explained by dyslipidemia characterized by high plasma triacylglycerol (TAG), low HDL cholesterol, and a predominance of atherogenic small dense LDLs. Fish oil reduces plasma TAG and has previously been shown to improve the distribution of LDL subclasses in healthy subjects and might, therefore, be a good nonpharmacological treatment for type 2 diabetic patients. In the present study, we investigate the effect of fish oil supplementation on the fasting lipid profile, including LDL and HDL subclasses.

Research design and methods: A total of 42 type 2 diabetic patients were randomized to supplementation (capsules) with 4 g daily of either fish oil (n = 20) or corn oil (n = 22) for 8 weeks preceded by a 4-week run-in period of corn oil supplementation. Blood was drawn before and after the 8-week intervention period. Plasma lipoproteins, including LDL and HDL subclasses, were separated by ultracentrifugation.

Results: Fish oil lowered TAG (group difference: P = 0.025) and raised HDL-2b cholesterol (P = 0.012) and HDL-2a cholesterol (P = 0.007) concentrations as compared with corn oil. We observed no significant effects of fish oil on LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, or the concentration of small dense LDL particles.

Conclusions: Fish oil supplementation may partially correct the dyslipidemia of type 2 diabetic patients. However, the putative very important aspect of diabetic dyslipidemia-the predominance of small dense LDL particles-was unaffected by fish oil.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Corn Oil / administration & dosage
  • Corn Oil / chemistry
  • Corn Oil / therapeutic use*
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fish Oils / chemistry
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / classification
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / drug effects
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood*
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / classification
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / drug effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Fish Oils
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Corn Oil
  • Cholesterol