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Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You
Date:1/26/2009

New advisory puts worries about possible link to heart disease to rest

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- All that discussion about the omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds possibly being bad for your heart is unfounded, a new science advisory from the American Heart Association claims.

"There has been a lot of talk in the nutrition world that omega-6 fatty acids might be bad," said William S. Harris, the nutritionist heading the committee that issued the report in the Jan. 26 online issue of Circulation. "We wanted to evaluate it, and if it is not true, we wanted to make sure the American public eats enough of them."

The debate arose because arachidonic acid, a component of omega-6 fatty acids, is a building block for some inflammation-related molecules, and there have been fears that it might increase the risk of heart disease.

"That reflects a rather naive understanding of the biochemistry," said Harris, who is director of the Metabolism and Nutrition Research Center of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. "Omega-6 fatty acids give rise to both pro-inflammatory compounds and anti-inflammatory compounds. To say that they are bad because they produce pro-inflammatory compounds ignores the fact that they give rise to anti-inflammatory compounds as well."

The major component of omega-6 fatty acids is linoleic acid, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of the total. Both linoleic acid and arachidonic acid give rise to pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules, the journal report noted.

The advisory says that people should aim at getting at least 5 percent to 10 percent of their calories from omega-6 fatty acids which, like the omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish, are polyunsaturated. These PUFAs -- polyunsaturated fatty acids -- play crucial roles in growth and development and have a protective value if they replace saturated fats t
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