Beaumont Supports Advisory On Omega-6 Fats
Like the workings of Wall Street or the mechanics of rocket science, the role of Omega-6 fatty acids in the diet hasn't been fully understood.
But the American Heart Association just declared Omega-6s - found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds - a beneficial part of a heart-healthy eating plan.
People really didn't understand the benefits of Omega-6s for years because it was believed some of these fats may promote inflammation and increase cardiovascular risk. As it turns out, some Omega-6s do promote inflammation but others give rise to anti-inflammatory molecules, according to the AHA.
The AHA's new science advisory on Omega-6s appears in the Jan. 27 edition of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The advisory "sets the record straight with respect to cardioprotective (heart and blood vessel) benefits," according to a related editorial written by Peter McCullough, M.D., consultant cardiologist and chief, division of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, and Barry Franklin, Ph.D., director, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Laboratories at Beaumont. "By viewing fats as a macronutrient class, omega-6 ... occupy a favorable position on a continuum of fat intake in a diet formulated to prevent atherosclerosis and its consequences."
The AHA issued its advisory after analyzing a number of research clinical trials. Omega-6s and the more familiar Omega-3s (found in cold water fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel; flax seeds; walnuts; canola oil; and some fruits and vegetables) are called polyunsaturated fatty acids. They actually have health benefits when consumed in the recommended amounts, especially when they replace saturated fat or trans fat. They play a big role in heart and brain function and in normal growth and development. The body doesn't produce either of these fats, so people must get them from food - making them "essential fats" in our diet.
The AHA recommends that people get 5-10 percent of their daily calories from Omega-6s. Most Americans get enough of these oils in the foods they eat, according to the association. Recommended daily servings of Omega-6s depend on physical activity level, age and gender, and range from 12-22 grams.
Still up in the air is the ideal ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s in the diet. "Expert opinion has ranged widely," wrote the Beaumont heart experts.