Omega-6 fatty acids are mainly found in vegetables and seeds such as evening primrose seed, corn, safflower, black currant seed, borage seed, and soybean, as well as the oils made from these foods. A type of unsaturated fat, omega-6 has gained a lot of attention in recent years. We cannot produce these fats in our bodies and must rely on getting enough of them in our diets. Here are some of the potential health benefits of omega-6 fats.
One surprising benefit to omega-6 fats is their ability to reduce inflammation. Omega-6 fats in the form of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) break down into components that naturally reduce inflammation. This is great news for those who suffer from chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, as it may help the body fight those diseases.
Studies have shown that consuming omega-6 can reduce nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, though it seems to work better for people with other types of neuropathy, who do not have diabetes.
Linoleic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid, is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) for reducing the risk of heart disease. The AHA recommends substituting omega-6 fats for saturated fats in cooking to avoid coronary heart disease. Some fats, such as walnut oil, have high amounts of linoleic acid and are a good choice for heart health.
It's a proven fact that eating a diet rich in omega-6 fats will lower your LDL or bad cholesterol. LDL is responsible for clogging arteries and thereby increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you want to lower your cholesterol, substitute omega-6 fats for saturated fats in your diet.
High blood pressure can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It's very important to control your blood pressure, especially if it is high or even borderline high. Studies have shown that GLA can reduce high blood pressure and even systolic blood pressure.
Diabetes occurs when a person has abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood due to insufficient production of insulin or a resistance to insulin. This chronic condition affects 9.4 percent of people in the United States: some 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. Omega-6 may help those with prediabetes lower their risk of developing diabetes by up to 35 percent.
As we grow older, we're at risk of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis. The good news is that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to support bone health and help people keep healthy and strong bones. Male and female subjects benefited from an increase in omega-6 and omega-3 fats, developing stronger spines and hips than the control group.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system attacks the joints. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you may be able to get some relief from omega-6 fatty acids. Early studies indicate that evening primrose oil may help relieve pain, stiffness, and swelling, but does not prevent the damage that rheumatoid arthritis does to the joints.
Some women suffer from cramps, mood swings, weight gain, irritability, and bloating before their period. The condition, called premenstrual syndrome or PMS, it can be very difficult for some women. Using evening primrose oil may help reduce or eliminate symptoms of PMS.
Omega-6 fats are very healthy but more research needs to be done. Talk with your doctor about whether including omega-6 fats in your diet could help any conditions you have. Your doctor should be able to guide you on dosage and use of omega-6 fatty acids, plus give you more information concerning the studies behind the benefits.
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