Even non-hydrogenated vegetable oils, high in omega-6 fatty acids can have devastating health effects if consumed in large quantities.
Or, so we’ve been told by several health aficionados, whose message is gaining popularity.
So which scientific studies is the demonization of omega-6 (linoleic fatty acid) based on?After all, vegetable oils rich in those fatty acids are in just about everything from chips and fast food to even, so called healthy, Lean Cuisine frozen meals. While some of us may have already reduced or eliminated such foods in our diets, the vast majority of people haven’t.
Let’s see what the research says.
Omega-6 Fatty Acid Studies
- Effects of canola and corn oil mimetic on Jurkat cells. (June 2011) – In this recent study leukemia cells were given canola oil (low in omega-6) and corn oil (high in omega 6). The corn oil caused inflammation, while the canola oil didn’t.
- Omega-6 oil increases heart disease risk. (Dec. 2010)- In this study those that had a high omega-6 fat intake had a 28% higher risk of heart disease, while those with a balanced omega-6, omega 3 fatty acid profile had a decreased risk by 22%. A detailed explanation of the study is found here.
- Fatty acids not associated with prostate cancer risk. (June 2011)- In this study researchers were looking for a link between inflammation caused by omega-6 and prostate cancer. There was no correlation.
- Disproportionate fatty acid levels caused obesity in mice. (June 2009)- In this study one group of mice were given diets high in omega-6 fats and the other group a balanced fatty acid profile diet. The high omega-6 group gained more weight and had decreased organ function than the balanced group.
- Omega 6 fats increase age related macular degeneration risk. (Nov 2009)- In this study women who consume high amounts of omega-6 oils have a higher risk of AMD and even those who consume omega-3 are only protected if the level of omega-6 is in balance.
What can we conclude?
I think it’s pretty clear that the majority of the research would suggest that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids aren’t a good idea. But, should we cut them out entirely? The research also shows that balance is the key. Omega-6 fatty acids should be in proper proportion to omega-3 fatty acids. The debate lies in what exactly that proportion should be.
Low omega-6 vegetable oils
Check nutrition labels in order to know what kind of fatty acids are in a product. Some products won’t list omega-6 fatty acid, but you can identify it also as linoleic. Also, look for the names of the oils used in the ingredients list.
Choose: olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, canola oil, flaxseed, almond oil, fish oil
Avoid: corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, wheat germ oil, sesame oil