The Importance of the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Cardiovascular Disease and Other Chronic Diseases

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Experimental Biology and Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.17). 07/2008; 233(6):674-88. DOI: 10.3181/0711-MR-311
Source: PubMed


Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA) of approximately 1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1. Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today's Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio), exert suppressive effects. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4/1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10/1 had adverse consequences. These studies indicate that the optimal ratio may vary with the disease under consideration. This is consistent with the fact that chronic diseases are multigenic and multifactorial. Therefore, it is quite possible that the therapeutic dose of omega-3 fatty acids will depend on the degree of severity of disease resulting from the genetic predisposition. A lower ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids is more desirable in reducing the risk of many of the chronic diseases of high prevalence in Western societies, as well as in the developing countries.

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Available from: Artemis Simopoulos, Aug 18, 2015
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    • "Thus, SCD indexes may predict the development of MS[6,7]. Today's Western-style diets are characterized by increases in total fat intake, especially in saturated fat and n-6 fatty acids, and decreases in n-3 fatty acids in comparison to the fatty acids (FA) intake during evolution for which our genes were programmed to respond[8]. Population-based intervention studies reveal contradictory results. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Biomarkers for cardiometabolic risk (CMR) factors would be important tools to maximize the effectiveness of dietary interventions to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Thus, the aim of this work was to analyze stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) indexes and n-6/n-3 fatty acids (FA) ratio as biomarkers of CMR induced by feeding rabbits on high fat diets (HFDs). Methods: Rabbits were fed either regular diet or 18 % fat in regular diet (HFD) or 1 % cholesterol diet (HD) or diet containing 1 % cholesterol and 18 % fat (HFD-HD) during 6 weeks. Body weights (BW), blood pressure, visceral abdominal fat (VAF) and glucose tolerance test were determined. Total cholesterol (TC), low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), triglycerides (TG), fasting glucose (FG), and FA levels from plasma were measured. SCD indexes were calculated as product/precursor ratios of individual FA. Results: BW was similar in all diet groups. HD increased TC, LDL-C, HDL-C, and TG. HFD increased TG, VAF and FG, and decreased HDL-C. The addition of HFD to HD joined to dyslipidemia increased VAF and FG. SCD indexes were increased and n-6/n-3 was unchanged in HD. SCD indexes were reduced and n-6/n-3 FA ratio was increased in HFD and HFD-HD. CMR factors were correlated positively with n-6/n-3 FA ratio. Although VAF had a stronger correlation with n-6/n-3 FA ratio than with SCD indexes, VAF was associated independently to both markers. Conclusions: HFD simulating lipid composition of the average Western-style diet induced experimental rabbit models of normal-weight metabolic syndrome (MS). SCD indexes and n-6/n-3 were modified according to the type of dietary fat. Considering that VAF and CMR factors appear to be stronger associated to n-6/n-3 FA ratio than to SCD indexes, n-6/n-3 FA ratio may be a better biomarker of MS and CMR in normal-weight subjects than SCD indexes.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2016 · Journal of Biomedical Science
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    • "Improving the dietary omega-6:omega-3 ratio by increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake is essential for optimal brain function and for the management of cardiovascular disease, arthritis and cancer (Simopoulos, 2008). "
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    • "Recently, there has been growing recognition of health benefits of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the human diets, in particular n-3 fatty acids and α-linolenic acid (ALA). These essential fatty acids have been reported to play important roles in preventing and treating hypertension, diabetes, cancer and some inflammatory disorders (Simopoulos, 2008; Yashodhara et al., 2009). It was reported that in addition to the amount of essential fatty acids consumed , the dietary ratio of n-6/n-3 PUFA is associated with cardiovascular health (Wijendran and Hayes, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: The objectives of this study were to determine: (1) the effect of wheat dried distillers grain with solubles (DDGS) inclusion, and (2) dietary feed enzyme (FE; Econase XT) supplementation in a finishing diet containing wheat DDGS on fatty acid profile of the pars costalis diaphragmatis muscle of beef cattle. A total of 160 crossbred yearling steers with initial BW of 495±38 kg were blocked by BW and randomized into 16 pens (10 head/pen). The pens were randomly assigned to one of the four treatments: (1) control (CON; 10% barley silage and 90% barley grain-based concentrate, dry matter (DM) basis); (2) diet containing 30% wheat DDGS in place of barley grain without FE (WDG); (3) WDG diet supplemented with low FE (WDGL; 1 ml FE/kg DM); and (4) WDG diet supplemented with high FE (2 ml FE/kg DM). The pars costalis diaphragmatis muscle samples were collected from cattle at slaughter at the end of the finishing period (120 days) with a targeted live weight of 650 kg. No differences in organic matter intake, final BW and average daily gain were observed among treatments. However, steers fed WDG had greater (P<0.01) feed conversion ratio than those fed CON, and increasing FE application in wheat DDGS-based diets tended (P<0.10) to linearly decrease feed conversion ratio. In assessing the effects of including WDG diets without FE, concentration of total polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in muscle tended to be greater (P<0.10) for steers fed WDG than steers fed CON. In addition, inclusion of wheat DDGS into the diet increased (P<0.05) concentration of CLA and vaccenic acid (VA) in muscle and also resulted in a higher (P<0.05) ratio of n-6/n-3 PUFA compared with that from steers fed CON diet. Increasing FE application in wheat DDGS-based diets did not modify the concentrations of individual or total fatty acids. These results suggest that inclusion of wheat DDGS in finishing diets may improve fatty acid profile of beef muscle which could benefit human health.
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