Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Omega 3 has been touted as excellent and Omega 6 was been demonized due to the assertion (erroneous) that it leads to more arachidonic acid which is (again erroneously) blamed for inflammation. The entire story is described by Prof. Brian Peskin at this website. Everyone but your doctor is understanding that we need MORE omega 6 oils.
Johns Hopkins Health Alert
Heart Health Advice: Don’t Skimp on Your Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Over the past few years, you may have heard the advice to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids and to cut down on omega-6 fats. Now a science advisory from the American Heart Association (AHA) urges people to continue to eat their omega-6s. According to the advisory, omega-6 fatty acids should account for at least 5 to 10% of your daily calories. In addition, cutting back on omega-6s is more likely to contribute to heart disease than to combat it, says the AHA.
Omega-6s are polyunsaturated fats plentiful in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils made from corn, sunflower, safflower, and soy. Between 85% and 90% of these omega-6s are in the form of linoleic acid. Once absorbed, some of the linoleic acid is converted to an omega-6 fat called arachidonic acid, a building block for several substances that promote inflammation, blood vessel constriction, and blood clot formation. This explains why omega-6s have gotten such a bad reputation.
- But your body also uses linoleic acid and arachidonic acid to synthesize substances that play a role in combating inflammation, blood vessel constriction, and clot formation. In fact, when it comes to the lining of your blood vessels, omega-6s suppress the production of pro-inflammatory compounds, helping to quell inflammation and reduce plaque buildup in the arteries. What’s more, your body tightly regulates how much linoleic acid gets converted to arachidonic acid””so eating large amounts of omega-6 fats won’t increase arachidonic acid levels in your body.
What the Studies Say: Observational studies show that individuals who consume the most omega-6 fats have the lowest risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). In fact, those with CHD tend to have lower levels of omega-6s in their blood than healthy people. In addition, an analysis of 60 feeding studies found that eating more omega-6s in place of carbohydrates boosted high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol and lowered low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol.
Bottom Line: Contrary to the advice found in some popular diet books, omega-6 fats are not dietary villains and cutting back on them is unnecessary. You also do not need to calculate the percentage of omega-6 fats in your diet, as these fats are plentiful in the American diet and you’re likely getting enough. What’s important is to eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated and trans fats.
Posted in Heart Health on November 12, 2010