Posted on Sat, 4 Dec 10
Current guidelines suggest that increasing your intake of omega 6 fatty acids prevents heart disease; however a new analysis of the evidence has come to a very different conclusion: advice to specifically increasing omega 6 fatty acid intakes is unlikely to provide the intended benefits, and may actually increase the risks of heart disease and death.
The American Heart Association (AHA) currently recommended consumption of at least 5-10% of energy as omega-6 fatty acids, however the evidenced used to arrive at this conclusion is based on poor quality science and ignores data suggesting increased risk of harm.
To better determine whether omega-6 fatty acids influence heart disease risk a research group initiated an extensive review of human clinical studies, including those that form the basis of current recommendations.
The new analysis found that increasing intake of omega-6 fatty acids tended to increase risk of coronary heart disease and risk of death from all causes. This occurred even when omega-6 fatty acids replaced potentially unhealthy trans and saturated fats. Combinations of omega-3/ omega-6 on the other hand reduced heart disease risk.
In a commentary on these findings “The American Heart Association advisory on n-6 fatty acids: evidence based or biased evidence?” Professor Philip Calder from the Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton wrote that this piece of work is to be applauded and will, it is hoped, open a healthy scientific debate on this important matter.
The major sources of dietary omega-6 fatty acids include corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, meat and poultry, cereal-based products and cereals.
1. Ramsden CE, Hibbeln JR, Majchrzak SF, Davis JM. n-6 Fatty acid-specific and mixed polyunsaturate dietary interventions have different effects on CHD risk: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2010 Dec;104(11):1586-600
2. Calder PC. The American Heart Association advisory on n-6 fatty acids: evidence based or biased evidence? Br J Nutr. 2010 Dec;104(11):1575-6.
3. Meyer BJ, Mann NJ, Lewis JL, Milligan GC, Sinclair AJ, Howe PR. Dietary intakes and food sources of omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lipids. 2003 Apr;38(4):391-8.