Upping levels of omega-6 could protect against premature death, says study
New European research suggests that a diet rich in omega-6 could help reduce the risk of premature death, including death from cardiovascular disease.
Carried out by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland, the new research looked at 2,480 men who were between 42 and 60 years of age at the start of the study. Of the men, 1,019 had a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, or diabetes, and 1,461 were without a history of disease.
The researchers measured participants’ blood level of linoleic acid, the most common polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid, before dividing them into five groups based on their level.
After following the participants for an average of 22 years, the researchers found that those who were in the group with the highest level of linoleic acid had a 43 percent reduced risk of premature death from all causes when compared to the group with the lowest level.
Participants with a higher blood linoleic acid level also had a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, adding to previous findings which suggest a higher dietary intake of linoleic acid and a higher blood linoleic acid level can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and also of type 2 diabetes. However, a high blood linoleic acid level did not appear to reduce the risk of death due to cancer.
After measuring participants’ blood level of arachidonic acid, a minor polyunsaturated fatty acid, the study also revealed a new finding, with a similar, although weaker association also found between a high arachidonic acid level and a lower risk of death.
The team also noted that the positive effect of a high level of linoleic acid was similar for both those with or without a history of major chronic disease such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer or diabetes.
Individuals can boost their blood linoleic acid level through diet, with vegetable oils, plant-based spreads, nuts and seeds the main sources of linoleic acid. However, diet has little effect on blood arachidonic acid level.
The findings were published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. JB