Omega-6 fatty acids may help prevent coronary heart disease

Omega-6 fatty acids may help prevent coronary heart disease

August 3, 2012

A new study has found that omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids can help prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) and that dietary saturated fat increases the risk for CHD.

A new study has found that omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids can help prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) and that dietary saturated fat increases the risk for CHD.

The study, led by Kay-Tee Khaw with the University of Cambridge School of Medicine in Cambridge, United Kingdom, was published in the July 3 edition of PLoS Medicine.

The UK researchers conducted a prospective study of 25,639 individuals between ages 40 and 79 years. They found that there was no overall significant relationship between total blood fatty acid concentration and CHD, but there was a positive association with increasing blood saturated fatty acid concentration after adjusting for other fatty acid concentrations.

In contrast, omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acid concentrations in the subjects’ blood were associated with lower CHD risk. Blood monounsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids, and trans-fatty acids were not consistently associated with CHD risk.

“These findings suggest that plasma concentrations of saturated fatty acids are associated with increased risk of CHD and that concentrations of omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids are associated with decreased risk of CHD,” the researchers wrote.

The findings are consistent with other studies and with current dietary advice for preventing CHD, which encourages substituting foods high in saturated fat with omega-6 poly-unsaturated fats, according to the researchers. However, the researchers noted limitations to the study, such as factors other than diet (genetic differences in metabolism, for example) that may cause changes to blood fatty acid levels.