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Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Make Mice Faster

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Saturday, July 04, 2009

Defeat Diabetes ® News--Mice consuming diets high in polyunsaturated fatty acids have increased performance levels in sprints, a finding which might be extendable to human athletes. This finding adds to the already wide range of benefits of these compounds.
 
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (also referred to simply as polyunsaturated fats), can be either "cis" or "trans" fats. Polyunsaturated fats are characterized, among other things, by low melting points (fats that remain liquid at mild to low temperatures), as opposed to saturated fats like butter. Vegetable oils, grain products, peanut butter, fish and fish oils, are the most widely cited examples of polyunsaturated fat sources,
 
A wide variety of benefits have been cited for polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acid, which is found in certain oily fish (salmon and halibut, for example) and fish oils, and omega-6 fatty acid, which is found in certain vegetable oils, such as that of sunflower. Heart disease prevention, as well as a form of prostate and breast cancer prevention and treatment, have been noted as benefits of omega-3 consumption, and omega-6 fatty acid consumption has been associated with decreased cardiovascular disease risk. There has also been some research linking these compounds, especially omega-3, to diabetes prevention and control. Excessive trans polyunsaturated fat consumption, however, has been associated with high bad cholesterol, low good (LDL) cholesterol, and increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
 
The current study, which was an extension of past research that showed higher levels of "n-6" (representing omega-6) fatty acids in skeletal tissue to translate to faster running speeds in various animals, fed mice diets high in sunflower oil for two weeks. Sunflower oil is high in n-6 fatty acids, as opposed to linseed oil, which is high in n-3 fatty acids, and was given to a different set of mice. The sunflower oil mice were observed to run 6.3% faster than there linseed oil counterparts after the two week study. Says lead investigato Dr. Christopher Turbill, "the results of the current study on mice suggest that moderate differences in dietary n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid intake can have a biologically meaningful effect on maximum running speed."
 
While n-6 and n-3 fatty acids are both known to have benefits, n-6 fatty acids might become an important dietary component for high-performance athletes. Concludes Dr. Turbill, "the application of this research to the performance of elite athletes (specifically those in sports that involve short distance sprints, including cycling) is uncertain, but in my opinion certainly deserves some further attention."

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Turbill, Christopher. Livermore, Tess. Society for Experimental Biology news release. June 2009.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes ® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2009 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
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