Can Butter Cure Diabetes?

Fat may not be such a bad thing when it comes to diabetes.

Using research on dolphins, scientists from the National Marine Mammal Foundation found that a specific dietary saturated fat, called heptadecanoic acid, could help to cure the symptoms of pre-diabetes in humans.

By analyzing how omega-3 fatty acids - which are often sourced from fish - affected the fatty acid blood levels in dolphins, the researchers were able to discover that these animals can alter back and forth between a diabetes-like state and a non-diabetes state.

Dolphins that had higher levels of heptadecanoic acid also had lower insulin and triglycerides, explained Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, lead study author.

"We were surprised to find that among the 55 fatty acids studied, the saturated fat heptadecanoic acid appeared to have had the most beneficial impact on dolphin metabolism," Venn-Watson said.

Human heptadecanoic deficiencies?

Taking the study further, researchers fed six dolphins fish that were high in heptadecanoic acid. After six months, diabetes indicators like high insulin and glucose had leveled out. High ferritin levels - normally a precursor to the development of metabolic syndrome - had also dropped in the dolphins.

In human foods, the highest concentrations of heptadecanoic acid are found in foods like whole fat milk, butter, and yogurt.

The movement away from these types of food in recent decades could be linked to heptadecanoic deficiencies in humans, the researchers hypothesized.

"In turn, this dietary deficiency may be playing a role in the global diabetes pandemic," Venn-Watson said.

Source: National Marine Mammal Foundation

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