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Omega 6: Sources, Risks, And More

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Omega 6 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

The human body is incapable of making it so, we have to obtain it from the food that we eat which makes it an essential nutrient.

Omega 6 fatty acids perform several important functions in the body. It maintains the proper functioning of the brain, regulates cell growth, and may also help to promote heart health.

It could help you to trigger skin health and hair growth, keep your bones healthy and maintain the functions of the reproductive system.

You can easily obtain omega-6 through food items such as walnuts, pumpkin seeds, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower seeds, and oil, etc.

Our body not only needs omega 6 but a balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. A disbalance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids may lead to health problems.

Role Of Omega 6 Fatty Acids 

Omega 6 fatty acids are healthy unsaturated fats. It is classified as an essential nutrient as we have to obtain this from the food that we consume.

There are four types of omega-6 fatty acids- Linoleic acid (LA), Arachidonic acid (ARA), Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and Gamma linoleic acid (GLA).

Linoleic acid is the most commonly available type of omega-6 fatty acid among all the above types.

Omega 6 fatty acids perform several important functions in the body ranging from regulating metabolism and maintaining bone health to brain function and growth and development of cells.

According to this study[1], Females between the age of 19 to 50 should consume 12 grams of omega-6 fatty acids while on the other hand, while males between the age of 19 to 50 are required to consume 17 grams per day.

In contrast to omega 6 fatty acids which help to initiate inflammation, omega 3 fatty acids may help in reducing inflammation.

Therefore, it is necessary to consume both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the correct ratio.

Usually, the consumption of omega 6 is much higher than omega 3 fatty acids. The healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio ranges from 1:1 to 4:1.

8 Sources Of Omega 6 Fatty Acids

  1. Safflower Oil

    Safflower oil is extracted from the seeds of safflower oil. Just one tablespoon of safflower oil contains[2] 12 grams of omega 6.

    It contains compounds such as linoleic acid and oleic acid which may help you to control your blood sugar levels.

    Safflower oil helps the body to absorb vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. It is lower in bad fats or saturated fats and high in unsaturated fats or good fats.

    It may also help in reducing[3] inflammation and improving the functions of the heart.

    When consumed in moderation, safflower oil might nourish your skin and keep your hair healthy because of the presence of vitamin E in it.

  2. Walnuts

    Walnuts are tasty and highly nutritious. An ounce of walnuts contains [4] around 10.8 grams of omega-6 fatty acids.

    It also contains omega 3 fatty acids which may help you to maintain a balanced ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

    Since walnuts contain both omega 3 and omega 6 acids, they may help you to provide protection against cell damage and also work as an anti-inflammatory agent.

    You may add it to different food items, salads, and even to deserts to give it a unique texture along with nutrition.

  3. Avocado Oil

    Unlike other oils, avocado oil is not extracted from its seed. It is extracted from the pulp of avocado.

    The pulp which surrounds the seed of the avocado is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids.

    It was also found that avocado oil might also help[5] to reduce the symptoms of arthritis. This oil contains around 13 percent of polyunsaturated fats.

    In addition to this, avocado oil is a heart-healthy oil that may help[6] you to reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels.

  4. Nuts

    Nuts are highly nutritious for our bodies. An ounce of pine nuts contains around 10 grams of omega-6 fatty acids.

    Pine nuts may also improve[7] glucose levels and could help you to maintain a healthy heart.

    Other than pine nuts, almonds are also a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids.

    An ounce of almonds contains around 3 grams of omega-6 fatty acids. Almonds are a rich source of antioxidants that might help[8] protect against oxidative stress.

    This improves its digestion and enables the nutrients to absorb readily in the body. You may eat them after roasting or raw as well.

    Nuts might aid[9] in lowering bad cholesterol and thus, improve the overall functioning of the heart.

  5. Peanut Butter

    Peanut butter contains as well as contains a high amount of linoleic acid.

    According to this study,[10] Linoleic acid might lower the risk of coronary heart disease by reducing saturated fats and carbohydrates in the diet.

    The presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids in peanut butter is associated with a lower risk of gaining weight.

    According to this info,[11] consuming peanut butter along with meals could help in managing the glycemic index.

    It has high amounts of healthy fats, proteins, and fibers because of which it stays longer in the stomach as our body takes a longer time to digest.

    This may promote weight loss. Peanut butter is also rich in vitamins and minerals such as niacin, manganese, and vitamin E.

  6. Sunflower Oil

    Sunflower oil is one of the best sources[12] of omega 6. It contains either linoleic acid or oleic acid.

    Linoleic acid is a type of omega 6 fatty acid while oleic acid is a type of omega 9 fatty acid.

    Both of these acids play a crucial role in maintaining cell growth and development.

    It also has antioxidant properties and vitamin E which may prevent wrinkles, damage from the sun, and premature aging.

    It could protect the skin from the damage caused by free radicals because of the presence of antioxidants.

  7. Soybean Oil

    Soybean is a versatile ingredient that may help[13] in lowering cardiovascular problems and improving bone health.

    Soybean oil is one of the most common oils used in the US as it is healthy and affordable.

    It is a great source of omega-6 acids. Soybean oil has a high smoke point which makes it favorable for frying and baking at high temperatures.

    It is rich in healthy fats. Soybean oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids which ensure the balance between the ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

    Soybean oil could also promote skin health and is versatile in use.

  8. Eggs

    One egg has around 2 grams of omega 6 fatty acids Most of the omega 6s are concentrated in the yolk of the egg rather than the egg white.

    It can be easily included in your diet in the form of omelets or hard-boiled eggs. You may also consume them in the form of sandwiches and muffins.

    Other than omega 6, eggs are also a rich source of proteins.

    In addition to this, eggs contain[14] various vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B5, B12, D, E, K, folate, phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and zinc.

    Eggs also contain omega-3 fatty acids which may help[1] you to lower triglyceride levels in the body.

Risks Associated With Omega 6

People usually consume more than the required amounts of omega 6. This is because omega 6 is abundantly present in packaged and processed foods which are unhealthy.

Our body needs a balance of both omega 6 and omega 3. This imbalance between omega 3 and omega 6 may induce[15] inflammation in the body.

Thus, increased Inflammation may put you at a greater risk[16] of heart diseases.

To maintain a balance between the two, it is advisable not to reduce the intake of omega 6 fatty acids but to increase the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties which may balance out the inflammation induced by omega 6s.

In addition to this, the consumption of high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids might make you more vulnerable to developing high blood pressure in people suffering from diabetes.

It may also elevate triglyceride levels in your body. Therefore, it is better to ensure a balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in the body.

The Essence

Omega 6 fatty acids are essential for several functions in the body.

They are richly available in most processed foods and snacks but replace them with healthy sources of omega-6 fatty acids.

Natural sources of omega-6 fatty acids like walnuts, sunflower oil, avocado oil, etc. could help in maintaining overall health.

Omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed in the right proportion.

High amounts of omega-6 can also result in hypertension and the accumulation of triglycerides in the body.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Available from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
  2. Oil, safflower. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1750350/nutrients
  3. Elahe Delshad, Mahdi Yousefi, Payam Sasannezhad, et al. Medical uses of Carthamus tinctorius L. (Safflower): a comprehensive review from Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine. Electron Physician. 2018 Apr; 10(4): 6672–6681.Published online 2018 Apr 25. doi: 10.19082/6672
  4. Nuts, walnuts, English. Available from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170187/nutrients
  5. Mario Simental-Mendía, Adriana Sánchez-García, Carlos A Acosta-Olivo, et al. Efficacy and safety of avocado-soybean unsaponifiables for the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Meta-Analysis Int J Rheum Dis. 2019 Sep;22(9):1607-1615. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.13658. Epub 2019 Jul 22. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31328413/
  6. Octavio Carvajal-Zarrabal, Cirilo Nolasco-Hipolito, M Guadalupe Aguilar-Uscanga, et al. Avocado oil supplementation modifies cardiovascular risk profile markers in a rat model of sucrose-induced metabolic changes. Dis Markers. 2014;2014:386425. doi: 10.1155/2014/386425. Epub 2014 Feb 25. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24719499/
  7. Effie Viguiliouk, Cyril W C Kendall, Sonia Blanco Mejia, et al. Effect of tree nuts on glycemic control in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled dietary trials. Review PLoS One. 2014 Jul 30;9(7):e103376. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103376. eCollection 2014. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25076495/
  8. B N Ames, M K Shigenaga, and T M Hagen. Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Sep 1; 90(17): 7915–7922. doi: 10.1073/pnas.90.17.7915
  9. Nuts for the Heart. Available from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nuts-for-the-heart/
  10. Maryam S Farvid , Ming Ding , An Pan, et al. Dietary linoleic acid and risk of coronary heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Review Circulation. 2014 Oct 28;130(18):1568-78. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.010236. Epub 2014 Aug 26. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25161045/
  11. Lesley N Lilly , Cynthia J Heiss, Sofia F Maragoudakis , et al. The Effect of Added Peanut Butter on the Glycemic Response to a High-Glycemic Index Meal: A Pilot Study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2019 May-Jun;38(4):351-357. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1519404. Epub 2018 Nov 5. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30395790/
  12. Bartholomew Saanu Adeleke and Olubukola Oluranti Babalola Oilseed crop sunflower (Helianthus annuus) as a source of food: Nutritional and health benefits Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Sep; 8(9): 4666–4684.Published online 2020 Jul 31. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.1783
  13. Soybeans and soy foods. Available from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/soybeans
  14. Sophie Réhault-Godbert, Nicolas Guyot, and Yves Nys. The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health. Nutrients. 2019 Mar; 11(3): 684. Published online 2019 Mar 22. doi: 10.3390/nu11030684
  15. Anamaria Balić, Domagoj Vlašić, Kristina Žužul, et al. Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Skin Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb; 21(3): 741. Published online 2020 Jan 23. doi: 10.3390/ijms21030741
  16. Angel Lopez-Candales, Paula M. Hernández Burgos, Dagmar F. Hernandez-Suarez, et al. Linking Chronic Inflammation with Cardiovascular Disease: From Normal Aging to the Metabolic Syndrome. J Nat Sci. 2017 Apr; 3(4): e341.

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