ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Soybean Chemicals May Reduce Effects of Menopause
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Most Kids With Type 1 Diabetes Lack Vitamin D
CANCER
Immune Therapy May Aid Kids With Neuroblastoma
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CAREGIVING
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
Blueberry Drink Protects Mice From Obesity, Diabetes
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Standards Need Tightening, Activists Say
Topical Drugs May Pollute Waterways
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
EYE CARE, VISION
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Obese People Seem to Do Better With Heart Disease
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Caffeine in Pregnancy Associated With Low Birth Weight Risk
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
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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