Some unsaturated fats promote inflammation

January 8, 2002 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Some unsaturated fats promote inflammation

A type of unsaturated fatty acid found in corn and safflower oil appears to activate genes that promote inflammation inside blood vessels, a risk factor for heart disease, new research from the University of Kentucky in Lexington suggests.

This fatty acid, known as linoleic or omega-6 fatty acid, also appeared to reduce cells' ability to protect themselves from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is caused by free radicals, by-products of the body's normal processes that can damage body tissues.

While unsaturated fatty acids in general are thought to be healthier than saturated fat, the findings support previous research showing that this omega-6 fatty acid can injure cells lining the insides of blood vessels, leading to inflammation.

The researchers stated that if people consume high amounts of antioxidants, unsaturated fats could be healthier than saturated fats. The real problem is that people eat high-fat diets, which are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, without balancing such diets with antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables.

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