Findings about omega 6 fats
An article recently published in the British Medical Journal launches a challenging hypothesis, namely that omega-6 fatty acids are not as beneficial to health, on the contrary it seems that they are harmful to people with heart problems. Findings of study derived from an earlier study published in 1978 which aimed an association between diet and cardiovascular disease. This new research points out that consumption of omega-6 fatty acids leads to an increased risk of death among individuals who had suffered from heart attack. The study conclusion is contrary to popular belief because it has long been thought that omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids have multiple benefits on health.
The original study was conducted on 500 men aged 30-59 years who had heart disease. Of these, half consumed linoleic acid from safflower oil (unsaturated fat) and half remained with the same type of diet. Researchers found that the first had a higher risk of mortality than the last.
As consumption of linoleic acid in the American diet has tripled in the last decades, researchers believe that there is a link between the increased incidence of cardiovascular disease and this type of diet. However they noted that more studies should be done to confirm this: “it would be a jump to say that this is what caused the rise in cardiovascular disease. Yet this is the conclusion we keep going back to,” Daisy Zamora, a nutrition epidemiologist with the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Health in Chapel Hill, said.
It should be noted that omega 3 and omega 6 are essential fatty acids, meaning the body cannot synthesize and they must be taken from the diet. Numerous studies have shown that these fatty acids have cardiovascular protective effects because they reduce “bad cholesterol”, that is LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center, explained that omega-6 fats are found in all kinds of vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower and corn oil, and are widely used in food industry as they are available and inexpensive. These are unsaturated fats and have been widely recommended in recent decades to replace saturated fats found in animal products.
Daisy Zamora, a nutrition epidemiologist with the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Health in Chapel Hill, said that what they found did not comply with the dietary advice given to patients in the last 50 years. She added that the study results should make people reconsider their choice regarding the food they consume daily. However she said that these results are not sufficient to make people to stop eating all foods containing omega-6 fatty acids.