ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Healthy Behaviors Slow Functional Decline After Cancer
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
CAREGIVING
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Breakfast Eggs Keep Folks on Diet
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Cats Can Trigger Eczema in Some Infants
U.S. Diet Needs Heart-Felt Overhaul
Hypertension May Hit Black Males Earlier
EYE CARE, VISION
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
When Gauging Age, the Eyes Have It
FITNESS
Moderate Aerobic Exercise Lowers Diabetics' Liver Fat
Barefoot Best for Running?
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
B-Vitamins Help Protect Against Stroke, Heart Disease
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Scary Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Questionable
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
Breast-Fed Baby May Mean Better Behaved Child
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
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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