ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Winter Is Tough on Feet
More Faces Being Spared in Motor Vehicle Accidents
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
CAREGIVING
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Weekend Admission May Be Riskier for GI Bleeding
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Successful Weight Loss Shows Unique Brain Patterns
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Statin Drugs Cause Eye Disorders
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
FITNESS
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
Week of Historic Senate Hearings on Integrative Medicine May Open New Doors
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
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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