ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
CANCER
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
Functional Foods Uncovered
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
It's a Whole New Outlook for Cataract Patients
FITNESS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Avoiding a Holiday Season of Discontent
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
Meat Additives May Be Dangerous for Kidney Patients
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Drink Away Dementia?
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Add your Article

Omega-6 Fatty Acids Can Be Good for You

By Ed Edelson
HealthDay Reporter

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 that can collect in arteries to form plaques that limit blood flow.

The committee headed by Harris conducted a two-year assessment looking at more than two dozen controlled and observational studies. Observational studies found that people who ate the most omega-6 fatty acids generally had a lower incidence of heart disease. In controlled trials, participants assigned to diets higher in omega-6 fatty acids had less heart disease.

The recommended daily intake of omega-6 fatty acids ranges from 12 grams to 22 grams a day, depending on age, gender and level of physical activity.

Harris said he meets those guidelines without much effort. "I keep to pretty much the standard American diet," he said. "I use salad dressing, one of the most common sources of vegetable oils, which have omega-6 fatty acids in their most concentrated forms."

Omega-6 fatty acids are also found in many baked goods and some foods that are fried with those acids. "Nuts do provide a good amount of omega-6, but not all oils," Harris said. "Canola oil and olive oil are low in omega-6, but corn oil is good."

Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and a past president of the American Heart Association, said he avoids talking about percentages when asked about omega-6 fatty acid intake.

"Most patients don't want to hear about percentages," Eckel said. "I really emphasize maintaining an overall healthy diet." If asked, Eckel points out that vegetable oils, nuts and seeds are good sources of omega-6 fatty acids.

"There has been a lot of talk about this concern," Eckel said. "I'm glad that the American Heart Association went ahead and looked into the evidence of such a harmful effect, and it just isn't there. This will comfort everyone who likes vegetable oil as part of a healthy diet."

More information

For more on good fats vs. bad fats, visit the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: William S. Harris, Ph.D., director, Metabolism and Nutrition Research Center, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Robert H. Eckel, M.D., professor, medicine, University of Colorado, Denver; Jan. 26, 2009, Circulation, online; Feb. 17, 2009, Circulation, print edition

Last Updated: Jan. 26, 2009

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