Fats, Fish Oil and Omega-3-Fatty Acids (cont.)
What are omega-6 fatty acids?
Omega-6 fatty acids are a class of essential polyunsaturated fatty acids with
the initial double bond in the sixth carbon position from the methyl group
(hence the "6"). Examples of foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids include corn,
safflower, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oil.
What are the n-3 and n-6 fatty acids?
These are synonyms for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, respectively.
What are trans fatty acids?
Trans fatty acids (trans fats) are made through hydrogenation to solidify
liquid oils. Heating omega-6 oils such as corn oil to high temperatures creates
trans fats. Trans fats increase the shelf life of oils and are found in
vegetable shortenings and in some margarines, commercial pastries, fried foods,
crackers, cookies, and snack foods. Intake of trans fatty acids increases blood
LDL-cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), decreases HDL cholesterol ("good
cholesterol"), and raises the risk of coronary heart disease.
What are the benefits of omega-3-fatty acids?
Scientific evidence is mounting that fish oil (predominantly omega-3-fatty
acids) can reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death. Some scientists also believe
that omega-3 fatty acids can improve one's blood lipid (cholesterol and
triglyceride) levels and decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.
What is coronary heart disease?
Coronary heart diseases are heart conditions caused by atherosclerosis
(hardening and narrowing) of the coronary arteries, arteries that supply blood
and oxygen to the heart muscle. Coronary arthrosclerosis is typically silent;
people can have coronary atherosclerosis for years to decades without any
symptoms or signs of heart disease. Symptoms and signs of coronary heart
disease develop when the diseased arteries become critically narrow or
completely blocked so that they can no longer deliver adequate blood and oxygen
to the heart muscle. Obesity, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure,
cigarette smoking, and diabetes mellitus can accelerate the arthrosclerosis
process, and increase the risks of developing coronary heart disease. Coronary
heart diseases include heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, angina, heart
failure and heart rhythm disturbances.
What is sudden cardiac death?
Coronary heart disease is an important cause of death in the United States.
Death from coronary heart diseases can be due to heart failure, arrhythmias
(abnormally fast or slow heart rhythm) or sudden cardiac death. Each year more
than five hundred thousand Americans die of heart attack, and approximately
250,000 die of sudden cardiac death.