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9 Best Foods With Omega 6 Fatty Acids (Find Out Here)

What You Should Know About Foods With Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are good for maintaining and promoting a healthy metabolism. They are essential for our body and without them, we won’t be able to stay healthy.

These essential fatty acids perform many functions that keep us healthy and feeling great. You can find them in plenty of foods and it is important you know which ones they are and that you start consuming them on a regular basis.

In this article, you’ll find out about foods with omega 6 fatty acids, their benefits and why it is important to include them in your diet.

What Are The Omega-6 Fatty Acids?

Omega-6 (18:2n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential because humans cannot make them and must be obtained from a diet. Omega-6 are represented by linoleic acid (LA; 18:2 n-6), it is abundant in nature and is found in the seeds of most plants.

Linoleic acid is the parent fatty acid of the omega-6 group. All other members of the omega-6 group are derivatives of linoleic acid; Alpha linolenic and Arachidonic acid.

LA can be metabolised to other omega-6 PUFAs in a pathway involving desaturation to form gamma-linolenic acid (GLA; 18:3n-6).

Are Omega-6 Fatty Acids Good For You?

Omega-6s are good for your brain, maintains healthy hair and nails. They help with inflammation, which is a major component in heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

In a lyon heart study, a modified diet which is the experimental diet was compared with the Step I American Heart Association Diet.

The experimental diet provided a ratio of LA to ALA of 4:1. This ratio was achieved by substituting olive oil and canola oil margarine for corn oil.

Since olive oil is low in linoleic acid whereas corn oil is high, 8% and 61% respectively, the ALA incorporation into cell membranes was increased in the low LA diet.

Recent studies by Cleland et al have shown that olive oil increases the incorporation of omega-3 fatty acids whereas the linoleic acid from corn oil competes. In the Lyon heart study, the ratio of 4:1 of LA/ALA led to a 70% decrease in total mortality.

Omega-6 Potential Health Benefits:

  • Neutral or lower levels of inflammatory markers
  • Replacing saturated and trans fat with omega-6 fatty acids reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Improve insulin resistance and reduce the incidence of diabetes
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol levels

Omega-6 Dietary Recommendations

The AHA recommends that people get at least 5% to 10% of calories from omega-6 fatty acids in combination with other AHA lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

Linoleic Acid Recommendations:

  • 17 grams per day for men between 19 and 50 years old
  • 14 grams per day if over 50 for men
  • 12 grams per day for women between 19 and 50 years old
  • 11 grams per day if over 50 for women

Data for the recommended intakes of omega-6 is sourced from 2005 Dietary Reference Intake (DRI)

Sources Of Omega-6 Fatty Acids

As more foods are analyzed for fatty acid content, we see that most foods consumed have much more omega-6 than omega-3. Sources of omega-6 fatty acids include:

1. Corn Oil

Corn oil is a rich source of linoleic acid, which is necessary for the integrity of the skin, cell membranes, the immune system and for synthesis of eicosanoids necessary for reproductive, cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal functions. It is highly effective for lowering LDL cholesterol.

Linoleic acid content: In corn oil, the total percentage of PUFA constituted by linoleic acid (18:2n-6) alone is about 60%. Typical food servings is 1tbsp or 7.8g of corn oil daily.

2. Peanuts

Peanuts are high in antioxidants. The antioxidants helps your body counteract oxidative stress that can lead to chronic disease. Peanuts contain one particularly potent antioxidant, resveratrol. Resveratrol may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

Four large studies showed that the more frequently you eat peanuts, the more you decrease your risk for heart disease. Results has indicated that consuming 1 to 1.5 ounces of peanuts one to two times a week reduced a person’s risk by over 25% and five times cut the risk by half.

Linoleic acid: LA(18:2n-6) content of peanuts is 4.8g, typical food servings is 28g.

3. Chia seeds

Salvia hispanica, also called chia, is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the family Lamiaceae. The high content of PUFAs is mainly α-linolenic acid (ALA), which accounts for nearly 60% fatty acids in chia seeds. Linoleic acid content is 20%.

Chia is used orally for exercise performance, hypertension, diabetes, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and weight loss.

Typical food servings: 20g–25g per day

4. Safflower

There are linoleic and oleic types of safflower varieties. The oil in linoleic varieties contains about 70-80% of linoleic acid and is used for edible oil products such as salad oils and soft margarines. The oil of oleic varieties contains about 80% oleic acid and serves as a heat-stable cooking oil.

Safflower seeds and oil have been reported to reduce degenerative diseases in bone and joints, controlling blood parameters such as cholesterol and high density lipoprotein levels. There has been evidences of boosting skin health, control muscle contractions, aid in weight loss, and improve hair growth.

Typical food servings: 1tbsp (13.8g) of safflower provides 120calories, contains 70% linoleic acid.

5. Cowpeas

Cowpea has high protein and carbohydrate with a relatively low-fat content, it is rich in essential amino acids, particularly lysine, histidine and aromatic amino acids. Consumption of cowpea is protective against gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular diseases, hypercholesterolemia and obesity.

Linoleic acid content of cowpea is 77mg, typical food servings is 165g.

6. Chickpea Seeds

Chickpea seeds are relatively a cheap source of dietary fibre and bioactive compounds e.g. phytosterols, saponins and oligosaccharides. Chickpea has higher total dietary fibre content compared to wheat, and higher amount of fat compared to cereals. Two polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic and oleic constitute almost 50-60% of chickpea fat.

The intake of PUFAs such as linoleic acid in chickpea has been shown to have a beneficial effect on serum lipids, insulin sensitivity and hemostatic factors, thereby it could be helpful in lowering the risk of coronary heart disease.

LA(18:2n-6) content of chickpea: 914mg, typical food servings is 82g.

7. Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids in compared to other edible oils. Sunflower oil is one of the best natural dietary sources of vitamin E. Sunflower oil is also used in blends of vegetable oils such as rapeseed, soybean and corn, and in spreadable fats to improve the vitamin E content of products. Sunflower oil is used for frying, cooking and salad dressings.

Sunflower oil when not incorporated with omega-3 can aggravate hyperinsulinemia and possibly lead to non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

According to regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, sunflower oil products can bear nutrition claims approved by european commission, based on the scientific assessment of the claim by the european food safety authority.

Typical Food Servings: 1tablespoon of sunflower oil contains 6.2g-6.4g of linoleic acid (18:2n-6)

8. Soyabean Oil

Soybean oil has a good lipid profile with saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in healthy proportions. Linoleic acid is the major PUFA found in soyabean oil. Phytosterols, especially B-sitosterol, inhibit cholesterol absorption and reduces LDL cholesterol levels.

Antioxidant vitamin E, a powerful lipid soluble vitamin in soyabean maintains the integrity of cell membranes and protects them from harmful reactive oxygen-free radicals.

Typical food servings: 1tbsp of soybean oil contains 6.9g of LA(18:2n-6)

9. Cotton Seed Oil

Linoleic acid is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid found in cottonseed oil. With three times as much unsaturated as saturated fatty acid, cottonseed oil is considered as a healthy vegetable oil and is one of the few oils advised for reducing saturated fat intake. Cottonseed oil is cholesterol free, extracted from plants makes it a great choice to reduce the cholesterol level.

It contains sufficient saturated fatty acids such as palmitic, stearic, and myristic, as well as enough unsaturates to make it a heart healthy oil and helping the body to act against the harmful activities of the LDL cholesterol.


Higher consumption of foods with omega 6 fatty acids can have inflammatory effect which can suppress the body’s immune system. It is important to include omega-3 foods and vegetables with omega-6 in your diet to balance the proportions. Foods with omega 6 fatty acids are beneficial to your health and there is no need to avoid them.

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