Add omega 3s but no need to limit omega 6s
Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health E-Zine
Add Omega 3's, but No Need to Limit Omega 6's
February 1, 2009
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in most whole grains and vegetable oils. An American
Heart Association Panel found no evidence that omega-6s promote inflammation to
increase heart attack risk, and they believe that reducing these fats could increase
heart attack risk (Circulation, February 17, 2009).
The AHA panel analyzed 25 studies and found that 1) people who eat the most omega-6
fatty acids have lower rates of heart attacks than those who eat least; 2) people
who have had heart attacks have lower blood levels of omega-6 than people without
heart attacks; and 3) people in controlled trials who eat diets high in omega-6 are
less likely to develop heart attacks than those on low omega-6 diets.
Fats are classified by their chemical structures into saturated, polyunsaturated and
monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats are sub-classified into omega-3s, 6s and 9s.
Omega-3s are turned into prostaglandins that turn off inflammation, and there has
been a theoretical concern that omega-6s would turn on inflammation which would
ncrease heart attack risk. Just about every respected authority still agrees that
omega-3 help to prevent heart attacks, but this latest report shows that omega-6s do
not increase heart attack risk. The panel concludes that "Although increasing omega-3
tissue levels does reduce the risk of chronic heart disease, it does not follow that
decreasing omega-6 levels will do the same."
I recommend a diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other
seeds, and at least two servings of seafood per week. Reduce your intake of saturated
fats, particularly in meat, and the partially hydrogenated fats that are still found
in many processed foods. Increase the omega 3- fatty acids in your diet by eating
fish and seeds.