Omega-6 fatty acids are a family of unsaturated fatty acids.
In general, omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation. Research shows that Modern Western diets typically have ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower. This fatty acid imbalance is believed to increase the risk of a number of chronic illnesses including: heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, mood disorders, ADHD and cancer.
Excess omega-6 fats interfere with the health benefits of omega-3 fats; in part because they compete for the same enzymes. A high proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fat in the diet shifts the body's state toward the pathogenesis of many diseases: prothrombotic, proinflammatory and proconstrictive.
The main vegetable oils used in cooking (palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower) provide more than 100 million metric tons annually. Of this, more than 32 million metric tons is omega-6 linoleic acid while only 4 million metric tons is omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.
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