Calcium, magnesium and omega-3s cut risk of metabolic syndrome

Although metabolic syndrome is more common with age, new studies show that eating quality fats and certain minerals slowed and even reversed the disorder.

Metabolic syndrome or syndrome X includes an oversize waist, high blood sugar and pressure, and more bad fats and fewer good fats in the diet and blood. When these factors combine, risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes increases.

Since magnesium is an essential cofactor for enzymes involved in glucose and insulin metabolism, low dietary intake of magnesium may be linked to greater risk of metabolic syndrome. In one study, researchers evaluated the dietary intake of magnesium for 179 men and 356 women aged 60 or older. They found that those who got more magnesium from their diet were much less likely to have metabolic syndrome, had better blood sugar levels on an empty stomach and had healthier body mass index compared to those who got less magnesium.

In another study, doctors believe an immune system protein, complement factor 3 or C3, is an early inflammatory sign of metabolic syndrome and wanted to test the effect of selenium intake on C3 concentrations. Researchers evaluated measurements of the body, blood pressure and lifestyle features of 100 healthy, normal weight young adults between 18 and 34 years old. They found that C3 was related to selenium status and that C3 may be an early marker of metabolic syndrome. They suggested selenium intake may help modulate C3 to help prevent metabolic syndrome later in life.

In assessing the association between the intake of fatty acids and metabolic syndrome factors, researchers evaluated about 700 Inupiat Eskimos, aged 34 to 75, and found that compared to those who ate fewer omega-3s, those who consumed higher levels of omega-3s from fish and sea mammals had lower blood pressure and blood fats, better blood sugar and higher levels of “good” HDL. Doctors noted that higher HDL levels lower heart disease risk and recommended consuming omega-3 fatty acids from fish to improve components of metabolic syndrome and reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.

European Journal of Nutrition; 2008, Vol. 47, No. 4, 210-6

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