No need to avoid healthy omega-6 fats
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No Need to Avoid Healthy Omega-6 Fats

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Omega-6 Foods

When it comes to healthy fats, omega-6 fats often get a bad rap. But did you know that these fats, found in vegetable oils and other sources, are actually good for your heart and body? Just like their well-known counterparts, omega-3 fats from fish, omega-6 fats play a crucial role in keeping you healthy.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are simply terms used to describe the position of the first carbon-carbon double bond in a fat molecule’s backbone. This structural feature influences how the fat functions in your body. Omega-3 fats, commonly found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are renowned for their heart-protective properties. They help prevent dangerous blood clots, reduce inflammation, and lower levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood.

But what about omega-6 fats? These fats, which we mainly get from vegetable oils, have their own set of benefits. They help lower harmful LDL cholesterol and increase protective HDL. They also improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, helping keep blood sugar levels in check.

The main criticism against omega-6 fats is that they can be converted into arachidonic acid, a fatty acid that some believe promotes inflammation, blood clotting, and the constriction of blood vessels. However, it’s important to note that the body also converts arachidonic acid into molecules that calm inflammation and fight blood clots.

Contrary to popular belief, cutting back on omega-6 fats is not the solution to achieving a better balance between omega-3s and omega-6s. The American Heart Association (AHA) strongly supports the consumption of omega-6 fats for heart and circulatory health. According to their advisory, numerous studies indicate that omega-6 fats are not only safe but also beneficial for your cardiovascular system.

Research has shown that increasing omega-6 fats in your diet does not lead to increased inflammation. In fact, many studies have demonstrated that higher omega-6 fat intake either reduces markers of inflammation or leaves them unchanged. Furthermore, replacing saturated fats with omega-6 fats has been found to lower the risk of heart attacks and other coronary events by 24%.

To enjoy the benefits of omega-6 fats, incorporate good sources into your diet. These include safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Aim to get 5% to 10% of your daily calories from omega-6 fats, which translates to 11 to 22 grams for someone consuming 2,000 calories per day.

While most Americans consume significantly more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, achieving a better balance is important for cardiovascular health. Instead of cutting back on healthy omega-6 fats, focus on adding more omega-3s to your diet. Include foods like oily fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines), fish oil, flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, walnuts, and chia seeds.

It’s clear that omega-6 fats have an essential role in maintaining a healthy heart and body. Embrace these beneficial fats and enjoy a well-rounded diet that supports your overall well-being.

READ:   10 Best Food Sources of Zinc

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