Problems with the American Heart Association's "Eat Your Omega-6 Fats" Advisory - Meta-analysis Reveals "Heart Healthy Omega-6 Fat" Ups Risk of Heart Disease
"First, an increased linoleic acid content of LDL increases its sensitvity to oxidation, and it is the oxidised LDL that is involved in atherosclerotic plaque growth. (linoleic acid is the unsaturated omega-6s found in oils, nuts, & seeds)
"Hence, an increase in linoleic acid intake could actually promote plaque growth and cardiovascular disease.
"Second, there was some evidence that linoleic acid could promote certain cancers, especially in animal models. These doubts were captured in an additional, often ignored, recommendation related to PUFA (the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids) in the UK: "there is reason to be cautious about high intakes of n-6 PUFAs, and we recommend that the proportion of the population consuming in excess of about 10% of energy (the calories in omega-6 oils or nuts) should not increase."
"The AHA advisory dismissed concerns about inflammation, thrombosis, and LDL oxidation."
-Philip C. Calder, "Commentary: The American Heart Association Advisory on n-6 fatty acids: evidence-based or biased evidence?" Br J Nutr 104:1575-76, Dec. 2010
his morning I received an email from Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD asking for my help. Tribole is an award-winning dietitian who is at the forefront of research about the omega-6 connection to health & disease.
She was anxious to get the word out about a just-published major review of medical research that refutes the recent American Heart Association's "Eat Your Omega-6 Fats" advisory. Turns out the research on which the advisory was based was questionable, flawed, incorrect, and can do harm.
Three NIH scientists, Christopher Ramsden, Joseph Hibbeln, & Sharon Majchrzak, all experts in omega-6s & omega-3s, are the authors of this just published major paper in the well-respected British Journal of Nutrtition. For some unknown reason these NIH scientists were unable to get their responses to the AHA "omega-6 advisory" published in Circulation. Hmm. I wonder why.
Tribole was experiencing some "technical difficulties" with her website and her post about this new research wasn't going to appear until Monday. That's where I come in. I said I'd be glad to publish her post that will eventually appear on her blog, "Omega-6 Fat News and Commentary", but first I had to give you all some background to this controversial story.
The Strange Story of the American Heart Association's Advisory to "Eat Your Omega-6 Fats"
The American Heart Association thinks we are worrying way too much about omega-6s and inflammation. They're afraid that if we don't consume enough polyunsaturated fats (think mayonnaise, safflower, cottonseed, corn, soybean, unnamed vegetable & sunflower oils) we'll do ourselves harm and actually cause heart disease. So...last year they issued an urgent advisory in Circulation 119:902-907, "Omega-6 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease: a science advisory from the American Heart Association".
Johns Hopkins' Heart Health issued their own "Health Alert" on November 12, 2010, based on this flawed advisory published in Circulation, "Heart Health Advice: Don't Skimp on Your Omega-6 Fatty Acids".
"Over the past few years, you may have heard the advice to boost you intake of omega-3 fatty acids and to cut down on omega-6 fats. Now a science advisory from the American Heart Associaiton (AHA) urges people to continue to eat their omega-6s. According to the advisory, omega-6 fatty acids should account for at least 5-10% of your daily calories. In addition, cutting back on omega-6s is more likely to contribute to heart disease than to combat it, says the AHA."
Too put it bluntly, this is craziness! No one in the U.S. is omega-6 deficient. It's just not possible. Omega-6s are in every food we eat, like corn, oats, soy, brown rice, garbanzo beans, and nuts--even foods high in omega-3s, like chia seed & flax have omega-6s. You wouldn't need even a teaspoon of added oil to get enough omega-6s into your diet to fulfill the 5-10% of your daily calorie requirement--yet the AHA advisory appears to give us all license to down even more oils than we already do.