We now know that fat tissue is not simply a storage unit for fat, but is considered to be an organ in its own right. Fat tissue, or adipose tissue, has hormonal, metabolic, and inflammatory functions that play a role in many different areas of health and disease. The fat cell, or adipocyte, secretes a number of proteins including adiponectin, a protein that exerts potent insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory effects.

Insulin sensitivity is the condition in which insulin is able to function as the “key” that opens the “door” of the cell so that glucose in the blood moves from the blood into the cell, thereby helping to stabilize blood sugar. You want your cells to be insulin sensitive rather than insulin resistant. Adiponectin helps your cells become and remain insulin sensitive.

High circulating levels of adiponectin are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.1,2 Experimental studies have found that omega-3 consumption increases circulating levels of adiponectin, but until recently, this had not been confirmed in humans. In a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers reviewed 14 randomized controlled trials and found that fish oil supplementation significantly increased circulating adiponectin levels.3

This research supports the beneficial effects of fish oil in humans, building on previous experimental studies. “Our findings provide support that these pathways identified in vitro and in vivo may have functional relevance to effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on adipocyte levels in humans,” stated the researchers. “These findings support potential beneficial effects of fish oil supplementation on pathways related to adipocyte health and adiponectin metabolism.” Fish oil dosage in the studies ranged from 700 mg to 2 grams daily.

You can also increase adiponectin with exercise and a high-fiber diet rich in vegetables and low-sugar fruit, healthy fats, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds, all healthy lifestyle factors Brenda and I have been promoting from the beginning.



  1. Li S, Shin HJ, Ding EL, et al., “Adiponectin levels and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” JAMA. 2009 Jul 8;302(2):179-88.
  2. Sattar N, Wannamethee G, Sarwar N, et al., “Adiponectin and coronary heart disease: a prospective study and meta-analysis.” Circulation. 2006 Aug 15;114(7):623-9.
  3. Wu JHY, Cahill LE, and Mozaffarian D, “Effect of fish oil on circulating adiponectin: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3899.