High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, improved postprandial glucose regulation and increased the n-3 PUFA content in the leucocyte membrane in healthy overweight adults: a randomised trial

Br J Nutr. 2017 May;117(10):1368-1378. doi: 10.1017/S0007114517001234. Epub 2017 Jun 13.


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is low in populations with a high fish intake; however prospective studies with fish intake have shown positive, negative or no association between fish intake and the risk for T2D. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of high intake of lean or fatty fish on glucose tolerance, leucocyte membrane fatty acid composition and leucocyte function in overweight/obese adults. In this randomised clinical trial, sixty-eight healthy overweight/obese participants consumed 750 g/week of either lean or fatty fish as dinners, or were instructed to continue their normal eating habits but to avoid fish intake (control group), for 8 weeks. Energy and macronutrient intake and physical activity were not changed within the groups during the study period. High intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, significantly improved glucose regulation 120 min postprandially (P=0·012), but did not affect fasting glucose concentration. A smaller increase in fasting to 120 min postprandial insulin C-peptide concentration was seen after fatty fish intake (P=0·012). Lean fish increased the DHA content in leucocyte membranes (P=0·010), and fatty fish increased the total content of n-3 PUFA (P=0·00016) and reduced the content of n-6 PUFA (P=0·00057) in leucocyte membranes. Lean and fatty fish intake did not affect phagocytosis of bacteria ex vivo. The findings suggest that high intake of fatty fish, but not of lean fish, beneficially affected postprandial glucose regulation in overweight/obese adults, and may therefore prevent or delay the development of T2D in this population.

Keywords: CRP C-reactive protein; MCP-1 monocyte chemoattractant protein 1; T2D type 2 diabetes; Cod; Fatty acids; Glucose; Leucocytes; Salmon.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3