NASH is a more serious form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Study co-author José Luis Quiles, a professor of physiology working at the University of Granada in Spain, and colleagues recently reported their findings in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
It is estimated that around 20 percent of people in the United States who have NAFLD also have NASH, and the condition becomes more common with age.
NASH is characterized by a buildup of fat in the liver — which is not caused by alcohol consumption — inflammation, and liver cell damage. The liver damage that occurs in NASH can increase the risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Some of the key risk factors for NASH include overweight and obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, which are factors heavily influenced by diet.
Studying how dietary fats affect the liver
Building on the link between diet and NASH, the new study from Prof. Quiles and his colleagues suggests that the type of oils we consume could play a role in our later-life risk of the condition.
The researchers came to their findings by analyzing the effects of different dietary fats, including sunflower oil, fish oil, and virgin olive oil, on rat livers.
In detail, the team looked at how lifelong intake of each of these oils impacted the structure of the rodents’ livers, as well as their effects on gene expression, liver fibrosis (or scarring), oxidative stress, and the length of telomeres.