In the largest study of its kind to date, regularly eating oily fish such as salmon, sardines, lake trout and albacore tuna reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The observational study, which was published in Diabetes Care, analyzed the health and diet of nearly 400,000 middle aged and older UK residents across roughly 10 years. The study found people who eat one or more servings weekly of oily fish have a 22% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who never eat oily fish. Even people who eat less than one serving of oily fish weekly have a 16% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Non-oily fish, on the other hand, has no link to type 2 diabetes risk reduction, according to the study. While the study may lead to future dietary guidelines for prevention of type 2 diabetes, clinical trials are needed before any formal recommendations are made.
Other Potential Benefits of Oily Fish
Fish oil contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3 acids support essential functions throughout the human body, from maintaining cell membranes to promoting hormone production.
Some research indicates omega-3 acids may reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Other research suggests omega-3 acids can help reduce inflammation and even fight depression, according to studies published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Staying Safe with Fish
Oily fish is an attractive option for good health — not only for its rich omega-3 content and potential type 2 diabetes risk reduction, but also for its high amounts of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and numerous other nutrients.  However, it’s important to remember fish contain mercury. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides detailed guidelines for safely eating fish, including which fish contain more mercury than others. As always, remember to talk with your doctor before making changes to your diet.
Though regularly eating oily fish was linked to the greatest type 2 diabetes risk reduction, the study found those who consistently took fish oil supplements had a 9% reduction in risk. It’s important to remember not all fish oil supplements are equal. Make sure you choose high-quality, highly concentrated supplements such as OmegaGenics EPA-DHA 1000 from Metagenics and follow the recommended dosage.