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.