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American Heart Association Science Advisory - Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Make Them a Part of Heart-Healthy Eating
Date:1/26/2009

. "Our goal was simply to let Americans know that foods containing omega-6 fatty acids can be part of a healthy diet, and can even help improve your cardiovascular risk profile."

The American Heart Association's dietary recommendations suggest a broadly defined healthy eating pattern over time - with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry, and fish twice a week. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been associated in a large number of studies with reduced cardiovascular risk.

Linoleic acid (LA) is the main omega-6 fatty acid in foods, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of the dietary omega-6 PUFA.

There has been some debate within the nutrition community regarding the benefits of omega-6 based on the belief that they may promote inflammation, thus increasing cardiovascular risk. "That idea is based more on assumptions and extrapolations than on hard data," said Harris, a research professor for the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota and director of the Metabolism and Nutrition Research Center at Sanford Research/USD

The linking of omega-6 intake to inflammation stems from the fact that arachidonic acid (AA), which can be formed from LA, is involved in the early stages of inflammation. However, the advisory explains that AA and LA also give rise to anti-inflammatory molecules.

For example, in the cells that form the lining of blood vessels, omega-6 PUFA have anti-inflammatory properties, suppressing the production of adhesion molecules, chemokines and interleukins - all of which are key mediators of the atherosclerotic process. "Thus, it is incorrect to view the omega-6 fatty acids as 'pro-inflammatory,'" Harris explained. "Eating less LA will not lower tissue levels of AA (the usual rationale for reducing LA intakes) because the body tightly regulates the synthesis of AA from LA
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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