A new study conducted on Dolphins has shown that eating foods rich in heptadecanoic acid, a saturated fat present in butter and some fish may help reverse diabetes in humans.
Led by the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF), the research found that that bottlenose dolphins could readily switch in and out of diabetes-like states, and that dolphins – including those in the wild – could develop metabolic syndrome, a subclinical condition called prediabetes in humans.
Because of the popularity of fish-based omega-3 fatty acids as a human health supplement, the team started by assessing fatty acid blood levels in 49 dolphins, as well as in their dietary fish.
Study’s lead author, Dr. Stephanie Venn-Watson, said that they 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.
Dolphins with higher levels of heptadecanoic acid in their blood had lower insulin and triglycerides, she added.
Heptadecanoic acid, also called margaric acid or C17:0, is a saturated fat found in dairy fat, rye, and some fish. The NMMF study showed no detectable heptadecanoic acid in nonfat dairy product and some amount in low fat dairy products. The highest levels were found in whole fat milk, yogurt, and especially butter. The fish with the highest heptadecanoic acid content was mullet.
The study is published in PLOS ONE.