`Researchers Recommend Vegetable Oils High in Omega 6

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Researchers Recommend Vegetable Oils High in Omega 6

Jun. 11, 2013
Elena Paravantes

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U.S. researchers reviewed 15 stud­ies and said they could find no evi­dence that a diet high in linoleic acid (omega‑6) had any links to inflam­ma­tion in the body. Our evi­dence does sug­gest that you can achieve a heart-healthy diet by using soy­bean, canola, corn and sun­flower oils instead of ani­mal-based fats when cook­ing,” they noted in their review that was pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Acad­emy of Food and Nutri­tion (for­merly known as the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Dietetic Asso­ci­a­tion).

Canola oil was included in the list of rec­om­mended veg­etable oils even though it is not such a rich source of omega‑6 com­pared to other veg­etable oils, with 20 per­cent of fatty acids being from linoleic acid, com­pared to 60 per­cent in corn oil.

Olive oil was not men­tioned any­where in the study.

Olive oil is in fact, low in linoleic acid with an aver­age of 10 per­cent of fats com­ing from this par­tic­u­lar fatty acid. For this rea­son it is rec­om­mended for cook­ing since it helps keep a bal­anced ratio of the two fatty acids: omega‑6 and omega‑3.

Most researchers agree that there are too much omega‑6 fatty acids in west­ern diets and not enough omega‑3 fatty acids. Omega‑6 and Omega‑3 are both essen­tial fatty acids, which means that our body needs to get them through our diet. Both fatty acids have ben­e­fi­cial qual­i­ties, though they need to be some­what in bal­ance in our diet.

Cur­rently in most west­ern diets the amount of omega‑6 fatty acids is 15 to 50 times higher than omega‑3. This is prob­lem­atic as omega‑6 fatty acids com­pete for some of the same enzymes as omega‑3, and inter­fere with the health ben­e­fits of the omega‑3 fatty acids.

The high intake of omega‑6 fatty acids in the diet appears to come mainly from the con­sump­tion of processed foods, which con­tain sev­eral types of veg­etable oils high in omega‑6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid. Omega‑6 has been asso­ci­ated with inflam­ma­tion in some stud­ies but not in oth­ers.

Impor­tant points:

  • As the researchers men­tion, the stud­ies they reviewed were small, with the largest one hav­ing 60 par­tic­i­pants and some hav­ing only 6.
  • The stud­ies included only healthy sub­jects.
  • The research was funded by ILSI (Inter­na­tional Life Sci­ences Insti­tute North Amer­ica Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee on Dietary Lipids), a non­profit sci­ence orga­ni­za­tion whose mem­bers are mainly food and bev­er­age, agri­cul­tural, chem­i­cal, and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Mem­bers of the spe­cific com­mit­tee include Mon­santo (cre­ates corn, canola and soy­bean seeds among oth­ers) as well as other large food com­pa­nies.
  • The main researcher G. H. John­son pro­vides a state­ment of con­flict of inter­est that he has pro­vided con­sult­ing ser­vices to the Mon­santo Com­pany and Bunge Lim­ited dur­ing the past 5 years.

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Apart from a poten­tial con­flict of inter­est in the study, the real­ity is that west­ern diets con­tain too many omega‑6 fatty acids and to sug­gest using veg­etable oils such as soy­bean and corn oil that are also rich in omega‑6 fatty acids would be com­pound­ing the prob­lem.

A high ratio of omega‑6 to omega‑3 fatty acids has been asso­ci­ated with increased risk of prostate and breast can­cer, increased risk of Alzheimer’s and depres­sive symp­toms as well as prob­lems with repro­duc­tion.

The Mediter­ranean diet is an exam­ple of a diet that has a health­ier ratio of omega‑6 to omega‑3 fatty acids, most likely due its use of fresh food (very low intake of processed food prod­ucts), olive oil as the main source of fat (low in linoleic acid), and high intake of fatty fish rich in omega‑3 such as sar­dines and anchovies.



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