Fish oil (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids beneficially affect biliary cholesterol nucleation time in obese women losing weight

N Méndez-Sánchez, V González, P Aguayo, J M Sánchez, M A Tanimoto, J Elizondo, M Uribe
Journal of Nutrition 2001, 131 (9): 2300-3
It has been reported that intake of (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and decreases biliary cholesterol saturation in the bile of gallstone patients. We investigated the effect of n-3 PUFA on cholesterol saturation index (CSI) and nucleation time (NT) in obese subjects who were losing weight. This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Obese women (n = 35) with a body mass index (BMI) > or = 30 kg/m(2), with no prior history of gallstones or cholecystectomy by ultrasound were first studied to ensure absence of stones or biliary sludge. The women were then assigned to a hypocaloric regimen [5.02 MJ (1200 kcal)/d] and to receive 1200 mg/d of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), 11.3 g/d of (n-3) PUFA or a placebo for 6 wk. BMI, CSI and NT were recorded at baseline and at the end of the experimental period. BMI decreased 5.75 +/- 2.7%/mo (range, 1.5-12.42%/mo) during the experiment. The CSI did not change in any of the groups. Cholesterol NT decreased significantly in the UDCA and placebo groups, but not in the (n-3) PUFA group. None of the women had developed gallstones at 6 wk. These results suggest that (n-3) PUFA maintain the CSI and NT in obese women during rapid weight loss, which probably results in the prevention of cholesterol gallstone formation.

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