AHA Supports Omega-6 for Possible Heart Protection

Getting 5 to 10 percent of calories from omega-6 fats may reduce coronary heart disease risk
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The American Heart Association recommends that at least 5 to 10 percent of individuals' calories should come from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, according to a science advisory published online Jan. 26 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

William S. Harris, Ph.D., of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D., and colleagues write that arguments have been raised in support of reducing linoleic acid intakes -- a major source of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) -- because reducing intake could lower tissue levels of arachidonic acid, which is the substrate for the creation of many inflammation-supporting molecules. This could in turn reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

However, observational studies tend to suggest a general benefit on coronary heart disease risk from omega-6 PUFA intake, the authors note. A meta-analysis of six randomized trials found that replacing saturated fatty acids with PUFAs reduced the risk of coronary heart disease events by 24 percent, they report.

"Advice to reduce omega-6 PUFA intakes is typically framed as a call to lower the ratio of dietary omega-6 to omega-3 PUFAs. Although increasing omega-3 PUFA tissue levels does reduce the risk for coronary heart disease, it does not follow that decreasing omega-6 levels will do the same. Indeed, the evidence considered here suggests that it would have the opposite effect," the authors write. "The focus on ratios, rather than on levels of intake of each type of PUFA, has many conceptual and biological limitations."

Several of the study authors disclosed research support or other financial relationships with outside interests.

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