By Corina Tan
In the past, it has been suggested that a high intake of Omega-6 may be associated with inflammation and arthritis. However, there is increasing information that suggests the link between these are not what it’s cracked up to be. In fact, recent research indicates that an increased intake of certain Omega-6s may actually play a role in reducing inflammation.
There are several different Omega-6 fatty acids, the two most common being linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Your body is unable to make them, but your cells actually need them, and that is where your diet plays a vital role. Despite a lot of attention given to Omega-3, Omega-6 can be good for your body and heart as it helps in lowering your LDL (bad cholesterol levels). A greater intake of nuts that are high in Omega-6 is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. As a general rule in heart health, it is advisable to eat more unsaturated fats, and reduce saturated fats from your diet.
Getting into specifics, many nutritional experts recommend aiming for an Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio for the healthiest approach to heart health. In your diet, one way you can put this kind of approach into action is by including your favourite Omega-6-rich foods along with Omega-3-rich foods in the same meal, such as adding a nutty pesto (high in Omega 6s) to grilled salmon (high in Omega 3s).
Here are some great suggestions of Omega-6 rich foods that you can incorporate into your diet:
Walnuts are an excellent pick as they contain both Omega-6 as well as Omega-3. A study done with people suffering from type 2 diabetes showed that eating more nuts, particularly tree nuts like walnuts, may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Nuts offer benefits for brain health, heart health, offer satiety and boost diet quality overall.
Pine nuts are nutritious snacks that are actually seeds from pine cones. They can be eaten raw or toasted, appearing as a small teardrop-shaped nut. They are rather expensive because it can take many years for the trees to start producing them and significantly longer for production to reach its peak. Their potential health benefits include the ability to manage blood glucose levels, reduce oxidative stress, increase brain health, heart health and keep you feeling full for longer due to its high fibre and protein content.
Extracted from the seeds of grapes, this oil is an excellent source of vitamin E that helps in building a strong immune system. It also has a high smoke point, making it versatile in cooking. A research review also suggests that grapeseed oil may be associated with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-tumoral activities and beyond.
When choosing corn oil, it is important to look for one that is certified organic with a non-GMO label to ensure it is not made of genetically modified corn. In place of butter or margarine, corn oil is associated with improving cardiometabolic health and greater life expectancy. A random crossover trial published in The Journal of Nutrition also suggests that about 54grams of corn oil per day may lower LDL (bad) while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.
Sunflower seeds offer an abundance of nutrients including Vitamin B6, magnesium, niacin, iron, and phytonutrients including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tocopherols. The seeds also contain cholesterol-lowering phytosterols and antioxidants, while also potentially being antihypertensive, anti-diabetic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. They definitely make a tasty snack idea any time of the day.
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