Omega-6 fatty acids can not only reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases but even protect against death, new research from the University of Eastern Finland has found.
“Linoleic acid is the most common polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid”, says Professor Jyrki Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland. “We discovered that the higher the blood linoleic acid level, the smaller the risk of premature death.”
An ongoing study at the University of Eastern Finland determined the blood fatty acid levels of 2,480 men between 42-60 years of age in 1984-1989. Of this number, 1019 men had a history of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or diabetes and 1461 men had no history of disease. An average follow-up of 22 years later revealed that 1,143 of the men died of disease-related causes. Deaths due to an accident or other reasons were not included in the study.
After dividing the participants into groups based on their blood linoleic acid level, the researchers discovered that the risk of premature death was 43% lower in the group with the highest level, when compared to the group with the lowest level. Further analysis of the causes of death revealed that a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases was also connected with higher blood linoleic acid levels.
The research supports earlier studies which connected a higher blood linoleic acid level to a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Dietary sources of omega-6 include:
- Nuts and nut butter
- Sunflower seed oil
- Sesame seeds
- Flaxseed oil