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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Fats >>  Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 fatty acid also belongs to the family of polyunsaturated fats. A fatty acid molecule has a methyl group at one end and carboxylic acid at the other. Carbon atoms in it are identified on the basis of their distance from the carboxylic acid. The last atom in the Greek letters is omega and thus the carbon atom in the methyl group is named omega in the long fatty acid chain. As the name suggests Omega 6 fatty acid has double bond six carbons away from the methyl carbon.

Linoleic acid (a short chain fatty acid) and arachidonic acid are the two main types of Omega 6 fatty acids.
Arachidonic acid is a physiologically significant type of Omega 6 fatty acid and is a precursor of prostaglandin and other physiologically active molecules. Dietary source of Omega 6 fatty acid include eggs, poultry, cereals, nuts, baked goods, whole grain breads and most vegetable oils.
Bifurcation of these sources according to the type of Omega 6 fatty acid –
  1. Evening primrose oil, black current seed oil and borage oil – gamma-linolenic acid.
  2. Sunflower oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil, cottonseed, wheat germ, soybeans and pumpkin seeds – linoleic acid.
  3. Conjugated linoleic acid is formed in the body by ingesting linoleic acid. Also found in animal sources and dairy produces like beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, cheese and yoghurt.
  4. Meat, poultry and eggs – arachidonic acid.
There should be an appropriate balance between the ratio of omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid in the diet. The optimal ratio of Omega 6 to omega-3 should be 4:1 or lower. However in modern western diets the typical ratio found is 10:1 or even as high as 30:1.
Any imbalance or excess of Omega 6 fatty acid in the body with low levels of omega-3 fatty acid, can lead to number of diseases. In a study Omega 6 fatty acid when consumed in excess amounts, promote the growth of prostate tumor cells. Omega 6 fatty acids (arachidonic acid) were also found to be higher in the brains of many rats that showed signs of depression.

It is important to read the nutritional fact labels for they type of fat on the oils and foods that are consumed. Far less attention is paid to the importance of Omega 6 fatty acid, although an essential fatty acid and important for health, avoid excess consumption of Omega 6 fatty acid and try to strike a proper balance between Omega 6 and omega-3 fatty acid to gain maximum benefits from them.

Submitted on January 16, 2014