By Dr Pieris Nicola PhD BSc (Hons) Dip ION
Omega 6 fatty acids are another form of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid, and, like the omega 3 fatty acids, some are considered “essential fatty acids”. They have their first double bond six carbons from the end of the chain. Omega 6 fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). LA is an ‘essential fatty acid’ and the parent compound for the omega 6 series of fatty acids. Good sources of LA include sunflower seed oil, which normally contains 60-75% LA, and hemp seed oil (45-65%). Starflower oil (borage oil) is the richest supplemental source of GLA, containing at least 23% GLA. Hemp seed oil also contains some GLA, as do evening primrose oil and blackcurrant oil.
There is strong evidence that omega 6 fatty acids help shape healthy cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and are protective against coronary heart disease. The body uses essential fatty acids to make various hormone-like substances called eicosanoids. These substances influence inflammation and pain in different ways. GLA may help to increase production of more favourable anti-inflammatory eicosanoids.
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