Cambridge, MA—A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that trans-palmitoleic acid, found in dairy products, may reduce one’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes. 

Lead by Dariush Mozaffarian, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health examined 3,736 individuals who participated in a National Heart, Lung and Blood-Institute-funded Cardiovascular Health Study; participants were studied for 20 years. Insulin, glucose, circulating blood fatty acids and trans-palmitoleic acid levels were gauged using blood samples that were stored since 1992. Individuals also were monitored to see if they developed type-2 diabetes. 

High circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid was linked to healthier levels of blood cholesterol, insulin levels, inflammatory markers and insulin sensitivity. Upon further review, it was determined that those with higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid showed a lesser risk for developing diabetes. “This is the first time that the relationship of trans-palmitoleic acid with diabetes risk has been evaluated,” Mozaffarian notes. 

He adds, “This represents an almost three-fold difference in risk of developing diabetes among individuals with the highest blood levels of this fatty acid.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, March 2011 (online 1/26/11)