There has been considerable controversy about the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid – it’s an essential fatty acid for the human diet, to be sure, but do we eat too much? Is the proposed excess causing chronic inflammation with its attendant long term consequences of heart attacks, strokes, and maybe even dementia? A recent editorial coauthored by Dr. William Harris (President of OmegaQuant Analytics) and his long time colleague Dr. Gregory Shearer (Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State) published in the prestigious journal “Circulation” (the flagship publication of the American Heart Association) addressed this question in its comments upon a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. The Harvard researchers compared the long-term risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) events (like heart attacks) and CHD death to the reported amount of linoleic acid in each person’s diet. The latter was gathered from a variety of validated food intake questionnaires. In the end, based on data from 13 studies with over 310,000 people followed for between 5 and 30 years for CHD, they concluded that those who ate the lowest amounts of linoleic acid were at about 18% higher risk for any CHD event and 27% higher risk for dying from CHD compared with those who ate the highest amounts of linoleic acid. The accompanying editorial expanded upon these findings and explained why the “omega-6 is bad” theory rests on such shaky grounds. Higher (vs lower) intakes of BOTH the omegas – 3 and 6 – is good for heart health. Links to both articles are found below.
Dietary Linoleic Acid & Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies
Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Friend or Foe?