Is Omega-6 More Important Than Omega-3?
May 12, 2009
According to a very "about-face" recommendation by the American Heart Association, Americans should not reduce their consumption of omega-6 fats -- and might even benefit from eating a little more.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fats are "essential fats" that your body can't produce and must obtain from food. These fatty acids play a very important role in heart and brain function, along with normal growth and development.
Most omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the diet come from linoleic acid, found in vegetable oils such as corn oil. There are no firm recommendations on how much omega-6 PUFAs people need, but at present U.S. adults consume about 15 grams per day of linoleic acid. But according to the Institute of Medicine, 17 grams per day and 12 grams a day are adequate for men and women, respectively.
Questions have been raised about whether omega-6 PUFAs might harm the heart by promoting inflammation, because these fatty acids are the building blocks of several types of inflammatory molecules. But some very compelling scientific evidence based on biochemistry and physiology show omega-6 fatty acids actually reduce inflammation, and they also have well-documented effects in lowering cholesterol levels.