Simopoulos AP (2013) Nutrients. 5(8) 2901–2923. Published online Jul 26, 2013. doi: 10.3390/nu5082901
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Western diets are characterized by both dietary omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and increased fructose intake. The latter found in high amounts in added sugars such as sucrose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Both a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids or a high fructose intake contribute to metabolic syndrome, liver steatosis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), promote brain insulin resistance, and increase the vulnerability to cognitive dysfunction.
Insulin resistance is the core perturbation of metabolic syndrome. Multiple cognitive domains are affected by metabolic syndrome in adults and in obese adolescents, with volume losses in the hippocampus and frontal lobe, affecting executive function.
Fish oil supplementation maintains proper insulin signaling in the brain, ameliorates NAFLD and decreases the risk to metabolic syndrome suggesting that adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet can cope with the metabolic challenges imposed by high fructose intake in Western diets which is of major public health importance.
This review presents the current status of the mechanisms involved in the development of the metabolic syndrome, brain insulin resistance, and NAFLD a most promising area of research in Nutrition for the prevention of these conditions, chronic diseases, and improvement of Public Health.