Include Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy heart diet

January 31st, 2009 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 31 (IANS) Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids or PUFAs, found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, are beneficial as part of a heart-healthy diet, according to an American Heart Association (AHA) advisory.Ideally one should aim for at least five to 10 percent of energy (calories) from omega-6 PUFAs, and will derive most benefit when they replace saturated or trans fats in the diet.

Precise recommended daily servings will depend on physical activity level, age and gender, but range between 12 and 22 grams per day.

The AHA report also addresses the recent controversy that omega-6 fatty acids, via linoleic acid, which accounts for 85-90 percent of dietary omega-6, may actually increase inflammation and thereby increase rather than reduce cardiovascular risk.

Any link between omega-6 and inflammation, says the AHA, comes from the fact that arachidonic acid, which can be formed from linoleic acid, is involved in the early stages of inflammation, but anti-inflammatory molecules are also formed.

These suppress the production of adhesion molecules, chemokines and interleukins - all of which are key mediators of the atherosclerotic process. Thus, concludes the report, it is incorrect to view the omega-6 fatty acids as pro-inflammatory.

A meta-analysis of several trials indicated that replacing saturated fats with PUFA lowered risk for heart disease events by 24 percent. Reducing omega-6 intakes, said the report, would be more likely to increase than to decrease the risk of CHD, an AHA release said.

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