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  • Study shows omega-6 reduces risk of diabetes

    Author: AAP

A study involving nearly 40,000 people has found a diet rich in omega-6 significantly reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Eating a diet rich in omega-6 - typically found in seed oils, eggs and nuts - could significantly reduce a persons' risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

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A study published in journal Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology involving nearly 40,000 adults, found those with the higher levels of linoleic acid (omega-6) in their blood had a 35 per cent lower risk of developing diabetes compared to those with the lowest levels of omega-6.

"Our findings suggest that a simple change in diet might protect people from developing type 2 diabetes which has reached alarming levels around the world," lead author Dr Jason Wu, of The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, said.

Linoleic acid is not produced in the body and can only be obtained through diet.


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Previous studies had raised concerns that it may have negative health effects, such as inflammation leading to the increased risk of chronic diseases.

To explore this, a team of international researchers led by The George Institute analysed 20 cohort studies done on the metabolic effects of omega-6 from ten countries.

"This is quite significant because previous studies have focused generally on the effect of omega-6 on cardiovascular, so having a heart attack, whereas this is one of the biggest studies of its kind to date looking at type 2 diabetes," said Dr Wu.

None of the nearly 40,000 participants aged 49 to 76 involved in the studies had diabetes when researchers began following them between 1970 and 2010.

At follow up, 4347 cases of type 2 diabetes were identified. Blood samples found an association between raised levels of omega-6 and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

"In pooled analyses, linoleic acid levels were inversely associated with incidence of type 2 diabetes," the authors wrote.

Professor of Nutrition at the University of South Australia Peter Clifton says the findings show that the consumption of omega-6 is not harmful but in fact beneficial for long-term health.

"We are faced with an increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes which has mostly been attributed to increasing obesity but one contributing factor, especially in Australia is a declining use of margarines and oils which are rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 oil," Professor Clifton said.

Oils and foods high in omega-6

* Flaxseed oil
* Sunflower oil
* Soybean oil
* Grapeseed oil
* Pine nuts
* Pecan nuts
* Pumpkin seeds
* Eggs
* Chicken
* Turkey


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