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Marianne Haag, Nola G. Dippenaar
Med Sci Monit 2005; 11(12): RA359-367
Insulin resistance is a growing worldwide phenomenon, which progressivelydevelops over years, and finally, if unchecked, predisposes to cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitustype 2. Insulin resistance is a generalized metabolic disorder characterized by inefficient insulin functionin skeletal muscle, liver and adipocytes. There is growing evidence that an increased free fatty acidlevel, and more importantly, the relative amounts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids contributingto it, plays an important role in the development of insulin resistance. In turn, this is a reflectionof the composition of dietary fat. Ultimately both the dietary intake and plasma levels determine thefatty acid composition of cell membranes. Higher levels of membrane saturated fatty acids seem to greatlyimpair the action of insulin, whereas the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially of theomega-3 and -6 families, in contrast, improves insulin sensitivity.