Study: Increased Diet of Fish, Fiber, Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Decrease Risk of Death in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes


Adults with type 2 diabetes may benefit from eating more whole grains, fish, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, which could lower co-morbidities associated with death.

A diet rich with whole grains, fish, and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) could lower the risk of dying from all causes among adults with type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to research that will be presented in Stockholm, Sweden at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting.

Following these recommended dietary guidelines could lower blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and have anti-inflammatory effects. This could ultimately decrease comorbidity risks like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“There are some dietary recommendations and guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes, but most are not evidence-based or are derived from studies of the general population”, said study author Janett Barbaresko, the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf, Germany, in a press release.

Whole grains, fish, and n-3 PUFAs were observed to have protective measures against all-cause death among T2D patients. Additionally, the analyses suggest that large quantities of plant protein and vegetables could be beneficial.

Common T2D risks include circulatory diseases, dementia, cancer, and bone fractures. Some research links the Mediterranean diet, and other specific dietary factors, with decreased all-cause mortality risks in T2D patients, but there is still little research on general diet and its preventative effects on T2D risk factors.

A Germany-based research team conducted a systematic review of 107 prospective observational studies that evaluated dietary factors and all-cause mortality risk factors in T2D patients 18 years of age and older. More than a third of these studies were part of 45 larger meta-analyses which looked at dietary factors and any-cause death.

According to the findings, whole grains, fiber, fish, and n-3 PUFAs were negatively associated with all-cause death among patients. Patients could reduce risk of death by 16% by eating 20 g/day of whole grain. The team also found an association between dietary fish consumption and mortality, and risk of death decreased by 5% with every increase in serving of fish per week.

Fiber has an important role in reducing risk of death from any cause in T2D patients. Eating a pear, which increases fiber by about 5 g, can reduce risk by 14%. Eating just 0.1 g of n-3 PUFAs, found in fish, nuts, or vegetable oil reduced this risk by 13%.

Consuming 100 g of vegetables may reduce risk of death by 12%. Further, consuming 10 g of nuts, tofu, beans, or other forms of plant protein daily could reduce risk of death by 9%.

However, the researchers found that a diet rich in eggs, a high-cholesterol food, were associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality. At levels of 300 mg, cholesterol was observed to increase a T2D patient’s risk of all-cause mortality by 19%.

This was an observational study that cannot prove its findings; it instead indicates an association between diet and risk with moderate-certainty.

“If individuals with type 2 diabetes are able to add a few servings of whole grains, fiber, fish, plant oils and vegetables to their weekly diets, our results suggest it may be an easy and low-risk way to possibly improve their outcome,” said Schlesinger, German Diabetes Center, Düsseldorf, and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), Munich-Neuherberg, in the press release.


Diabetologia. High intake of whole grains, fiber, fish and omega-3 fatty acids linked to lower risk of death in adults with type 2 diabetes. EurekAlert! September 15, 2022. Accessed on September 16, 2022.

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