Omega-6 fats are needed for heart health

February 4, 2009 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Omega-6 fats are needed for heart health

Like omega-3 fats, omega-6 fats are a beneficial part of a heart-healthy eating plan, according to a new advisory published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The association recommends that people aim for at least 5 percent to 10 percent of calories from omega-6 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat has also been thought to increase levels of inflammation in the body.

The goal of this new report was to let people know that foods containing omega-6 fatty acids can be a part of a healthy diet - and may even improve heart disease risk factors.

In an extensive review of all the current scientific studies, the heart health researchers found that people who ate the most omega-6 fatty acids usually had the low rates of heart disease. 

Studies also showed that blood levels of omega-6 fatty acids in people with heart disease were lower than the levels found in their healthy peers.

Omega-6 fatty acids play a role in the development and maintenance of cell membranes in the heart and brain. They are termed essential fats because the body can not make them - they must be obtained from foods.

Most people get enough of these polyunsaturated omega-6 fats in the foods they are currently eating - such as lean pork, nuts, vegetable oils and salad dressings.

The recommended daily intake of omega-6 ranges from 12 to 22 grams per day, depending on physical activity level, age and gender. One tablespoon (15 ml) of corn oil provides about 7 grams of omega-6 fatty acids.

Choosing "good" fats is just one part of eating a heart healthy diet. For more information on what foods are good for your heart, check out Leslie Beck's Heart Healthy Foods for Life.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.