ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
CANCER
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps
CAREGIVING
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
24 Million Americans Had Diabetes in 2007
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
EYE CARE, VISION
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Retinal Gene Is Linked to Childhood Blindness
FITNESS
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Go To Work But Skip The Car
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
Swine Flu May Have Infected More Than 100,000 Americans
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
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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