What are omega-6 fatty acids? Can eating omega-6 fatty acids cause heart disease?
Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. When eaten in moderation and in place of the saturated fats found in meats and dairy products, omega-6 fatty acids can be good for your heart.
Your body needs fatty acids and can make all but two of them, which is why they are called essential fatty acids. Linoleic and linolenic acids are derived from foods containing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, respectively, which serve different functions in the body. Some of these fatty acids appear to cause inflammation, but others seem to have anti-inflammatory properties. More research is needed to fully understand how these apparently opposing effects interact with each other and with other nutrients.
Until more is known, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 5 to 6 percent of total daily calories. Replacing saturated fats from foods such as meat, butter, cheese and pastries with plant-based foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids, including vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, will help you achieve the AHA recommendations.
Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Oct. 19, 2019
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