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Health advisory: omega-6 fatty acids help the heart

January 30, 2009 by  

Omega-6 can be found in nutsA new study highlights the benefits of natural foods, while another finds link between processed meat and serious health risks.

Omega-6 fatty acids – which can be found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils – have a beneficial impact on the heart and should be a part of a healthy diet, according to a recent advisory from the American Heart Association.

According to the association, numerous studies have indicated that replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids, of which omega-6 is one type, lowers the risk of heart disease by 24 percent.

That is because "[w]hen saturated fat in the diet is replaced by omega-6, the blood cholesterol levels go down," explains Dr. William Harris, director of the Metabolism and Nutrition Research Center at the University of South Dakota.

This seems to underscore the value of eating natural foods – such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats – as opposed to processed products. Reuters news agency has reported on a new study by researchers at Harvard which links the consumption of processed meats such as hot dogs to a greater risk of leukemia in children.

The human body does not have the capacity to produce omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, but they play a crucial role in heart and brain function and in normal growth and development, concludes the AHA advisory.

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