There's always been a cloud of uncertainty hanging over omega-6 fatty acids. A polyunsaturated lipid found primarily in vegetable-based oils, nuts and seeds, omega-6 was long believed to be a factor in causing inflammation, a basic culprit of heart disease. But the science never proved conclusive, and the less-popular sibling of omega-3 languished as a vague question mark in the health food universe.
That's about to change. A recent review of research by the American Heart Association promises to remove the doubt and promote the compound as a beneficial contributor to heart health.
“It does not appear there's any harm, and much more, there's probably a substantial amount of evidence — and in this case benefits — from omega-6 consumption,” said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor of medicine at the University of Colorado's Denver School of Medicine, and past president of the AHA.
The advisory is being promoted on the AHA's website as part of its “Know the Fats” campaign, which can serve as an ideal resource for supermarket dietitians and consumers themselves.
The AHA does point out that there are parameters for omega-6 consumption. The current recommendation is a daily caloric intake of 5% to 10%, or 12 to 22 grams per day, though consuming higher amounts “may be even more beneficial,” according to Eckel, who added that a review of studies showed that individuals with diets higher in omega-6 had fewer heart attacks.