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Diabetes Health Center

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Diabetes Patients: Fish May Help Kidneys

Study Shows Eating Fish Can Lower a Protein Indicator of Kidney Disease

Which Types of Fish Protect the Kidneys?

Adler says it's unclear whether it's the fish oil or the type of protein in fish that protects the kidneys. And the study makes no distinction between eating fried vs. unfried fish or warm-water vs. cold-water fish like mackerel and salmon. The study simply shows that eating more of it has a protective effect on kidney function in those with diabetes.

"We included all types of preparation [of fish] in this study. However, we did not find any difference in risk between oily fish or fried fish, such as fish and chips. There is a possibility that our study would have to be bigger to find differences between types of fish," Adler says.

Leslie Spry, MD, a kidney specialist in Lincoln, Neb., who serves as a National Kidney Foundation spokesman, says he typically doesn't tell patients to eat more fish but recommends fish oil supplements to control triglycerides (blood fats).

"This is the first study that has translated it into a dietary recommendation," Spry says, adding that he'd like to see a broad study of people with diabetes that attempts to find a link between fish and fish-oil consumption and reduced protein levels in the urine.

"The next study that ought to be done is to take a group of [people with diabetes] and randomize some of them to take high fish intake and some to take low fish intake and compare," he says. "I was kind of struck by their selection methods, that [participants] could eat any old kind of fish. This study suggested you could. I wouldn't tell my patients to go to a fast-food place and eat fish sticks, but this study seems to say it's OK."

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