Research has shown that fish oil can convert fat cells that store fat into fat cells that burn fat. This could help to reduce middle age weight gain. The researchers explain that digestive system receptors are activated by the consumption of fish oil. The sympathetic nervous system is in turn activated, resulting in storage cells metabolizing fat.
Not all fat tissues store fat. “White fat cells” store fat for maintaining energy supply. “Brown fat cells” metabolize fat for maintaining a steady body temperature. There is a plentiful supply of brown fat cells in babies but they decline in number as we get older. “Beige fat cells”, a 3rd kind of fat cell which functions similar to brown cells, has been discovered recently. Beige fat cells also decline in number as we get older. Fat carries on accumulating for years without these metabolizing cells.
The study looked at if consuming specific kinds of foods could increase the number of these beige fat cells.
It’s known from previous studies that fish oil prevents fat accumulation. The researchers tested if there was a relation between an increase in beige fat cells and consumption of fish oil.
A group of mice consumed fatty food, and another group consumed fatty food with the addition of fish oil. The mice consuming food with the addition of fish oil gained 15-25% less fat and 5-10% less weight in comparison to mice that didn’t consume fish oil.
Activation of sympathetic nervous system also resulted in the formation of beige fat cells from white fat cells. This means that some fat cells that store fat became capable of metabolizing.