Omega-6 fatty acids have received a lot of bad press lately. A lot of people on the Paleo Diet have been told to minimize Omega-6 fatty acids. Many have been told that it is important that they should have an omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 1:1 or 4:1. There is a lot we don’t know about fats and health. Or about fats and diet. Or about fats and biochemistry. There is a lot of interesting work being done. And a lot of great papers coming out. Its exciting to watch so many new bits of information floating up to the surface. But we don’t know everything. And we probably don’t even know much. This means it is way too early to declare “truths” about dietary fats.
Omega-6 fatty acids do not increase risk of heart failure.
A recent paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high levels of omega-6 fatty acids did not increase risk of heart failure. At least not in older doctors. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids were actually associated with reduced risk of heart failure. Other studies on Omega-6 fatty acids have been mixed. Some show that Omega-6 fatty acids increase risks. Others show that they don’t. Or that they are protective. At present, there is no need to get anal about omega-6 and omega-3 ratios. Omega-3 fatty acids seem to be pretty good for you. But even these can be over done. If you indulge in large amounts of fish oil supplements, you can have problems with leaky cell membranes. And bleeding. And maybe stroke. So don’t over do it or go nuts with supplements.
Petrone AB, Weir N, Hanson NQ, Glynn R, Tsai MY, Gaziano JM, & Djoussé L (2013). Omega-6 fatty acids and risk of heart failure in the Physicians’ Health Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 97 (1), 66-71 PMID: 23193008
Ramsden, C., Hibbeln, J., Majchrzak, S., & Davis, J. (2010). n-6 Fatty acid-specific and mixed polyunsaturate dietary interventions have different effects on CHD risk: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials British Journal of Nutrition, 104 (11), 1586-1600 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114510004010