A new book by medical writer, Susan Allport, contends that a little-known family of polyunsaturated fatty acids called omega-6s has permeated the Western diet and nullified the impact of heart disease-fighting omega-3s. You will probably hear more about this book, “The Queen of Fats,” over the next few weeks.

How do these two essential fatty acids compare? Here are some highlights according to the University of Maryland Medical Center website.

  • Both play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development
  • For optimum health and disease prevention, the balance should be one to four times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids
  • A typical American diet contains 11 to 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3
  • The Mediterranean diet has a healthier and more appropriate balance between omega-3 and -6 fatty acids

According to Ms. Allport’s research, the imbalance between these two families of fats is as much a culprit as are cholesterol, saturated, and trans fats for the epidemics of heart disease, obesity, and other chronic health problems.

Omega-6s are not bad, she cautions; in fact they are absolutely essential for health. We just have too many of them.

9/7/06 16:58 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.