Omega-6, where to find them and benefits

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Omega-6, where to find them and benefits

Omega-6 are mainly represented by linoleic acid which is contained in many fatty fractions, both animal and vegetable, but above all in the vegetable oils of plants originating from the temperate belt of our planet. The biological effects of imega-6 are largely mediated by their interaction with omega-3 fatty acids, of which they are antagonists.

Linoleic acid, the shorter chain omega 6, is an essential fatty acid. Arachidonic acid is also a particularly significant omega 6 and is a precursor of part of prostaglandins and other physiologically active molecules such as various endocannabinoids.

Sunflower, Corn, Safflower, Soy and Hemp are some foods that contain omega-6. There are also oils such as rapeseed and sesame oils which, on the other hand, have relatively high quantities of oleic acid. In general, plants native to cold climates are richer in omega-3, those native to temperate climates in omega-6 while those native to tropical or subtropical areas are richer in saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.

Arachidonic acid, unlike the linoleic acid from which it derives, is present in much more limited quantities in the plant world than in the animal world, so the nutritional sources for humans are above all animal fats. Linoleic acid is present in all vegetable oils and is abundant in many of these, including in particular in cannabis seed oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil, but also, to a lesser extent, corn oil, soybean oil, green coffee plant and others.

It is also present in some fats of animal origin. Its role in the prevention or treatment of various diseases is being studied, including heart attack, cancer, diabetes, cystic fibrosis. It would also seem that this fatty acid is involved in lowering cholesterol, acting on the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.

Γ-linolenic acid can be found in vegetable oils such as borage oil, evening primrose, black currant seed oil, and hemp seed oil. It is also found in edible seeds of hemp, oats, barley, as well as spirulina. The human body produces γ-linolenic acid from linoleic acid.

This reaction is catalyzed by the enzyme Δ6-desaturase, an enzyme that favors the formation of a double bond on the sixth carbon starting from the carboxy terminus. Linolenic acid is introduced sufficiently in most diets thanks to abundant sources such as cooking oils and meats.

However, GLA deficiency can occur when there is a reduction in the efficiency of D6D conversion or in disease states where there is an increased consumption of γ-linolenic acid metabolites.