The effects of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on health
Unsaturated fatty acids omega-6 have two or more CIS unsaturated atoms, the first being the 6th carbon, reckoned from the methyl end of the molecule. The precursor of this family is linoleic acid, which constitutes about 70% of fatty acids of sunflower oil. In fact, the linoleic acid is the main fatty acid in vegetarians alimentation. Linoleic acid along with alphalinolenic acid are essential fatty acids that can not be synthesized in the human body and must be obtained from external sources, from food. Regarding the actions of omega-6 essential fatty acids, we must refer to two areas: on one hand, these are part of the phospholipids cell membrane, playing an important structural and functional role and, on the other hand, serve as the main precursor to form eicosanoids, substances with multiple actions, hormone-like.
- The term “essential” leads many to believe that will be better for health if they consume larger quantities. In reality, presenting the effects of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids is a warning against their use in accustomed quantities in countries where are used sunflower, corn germ and especially soy oils.
- Ingestion of larger amounts of linoleic acid, ie over 12% of total caloric intake, lowers high-density lipoproteins (HDL), meaning “good” cholesterol. These amounts can be achieved easily when the only source of fat are the mentioned oils. Fatty acids omega-6 increase the oxidation susceptibility of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, “bad” cholesterol) and, perhaps other lipoproteins. Oxidative lesions of the cells and tissues plays an important role in the development of chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis. So, the sunflower oil by its high linoleic acid content promote the oxidative processes. Large amounts of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids are consumed in Israel, Taiwan and the Kalahari Desert in Africa (population Kung). Omega-6 fatty acids contribution to total energy intake is about 10% in Israel and Taiwan and 30% in Kung population. Taiwanese and Kung africans presents a low rate of atherosclerosis as thoroughly consume antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. However, in Israel, where fatty acids omega-6 are consumed in the form of refined sunflower and soy oil without antioxidants, the frequency of coronary heart disease is high.
- Fatty acids omega-6 exacerbate the inflammatory processes. Especially people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatoid chronic garbled) would be better to avoid these oils.
- Fatty acids omega-6 favors the appearance and proliferation of tumor cells, indirectly increasing the synthesis of some eicosanoids.
But if we quit on sunflower oil, from where we will get essential fatty acids that our body needs? The Creator took care of this and all sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, as olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts, sesame, pistachios, almonds, rapeseed oil, contain sufficient quantities of essential fatty acids. Who quits sunflower, corn germ or soy oil will not be lacking essential fatty acids. Instead, will avoid the harmful effects of linoleic acid.