These Heart-Healthy Fatty Acids Drop as You Age

By , Category : Food and Nutrition

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Omega-3 fatty acids are key nutrients for protecting against heart disease.Fatty acids, as you probably know, have a big role to play in keeping you healthy. Countless studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are key nutrients for protecting against heart disease. But there’s another type of fatty acid that you might not know about that’s equally important when it comes to preserving heart health, and it’s called linoleic acid.

RECOMMENDED: More on how omega-3s are better for you than we thought

A recent study looked at fatty acid levels and how they change as we age. The researchers noted that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower the risk for sudden cardiac death and for acute coronary syndromes. But higher linoleic acid levels have also been associated with improved heart disease outcomes. For these reasons, the researchers wanted to find out what happens to the body’s ability to utilize fatty acids as we grow older.

Fatty acid profiles from about 160,000 patients (48% from males, 52% from females) were measured by the research team. Here’s what they found:

• Compared to men, women generally had higher trans fat levels

• Saturated (41% of total) and trans fats did not change much by age, whereas monounsaturated fats tended to rise slightly

• Of the two major omega-6 polyunsaturates, arachidonic and linoleic acids, the former was unchanged across decades, whereas the latter decreased by about two percent

• Omega-3s increased by about 1.5% across decades.

• Both omega-3 and linoleic acid stabilized after age 70.

That’s some food for thought for those of you who are in your 50s or 60s. Follow this health advice, and consider boosting your intake of linoleic acid to help protect your heart. Linoleic acid can be found in safflower, sunflower, grape seed, and primrose oils

Sources for Today’s Articles:
These Heart-Healthy Fatty Acids Drop as You Age
Harris, W.S., et al., “Erythrocyte omega-3 fatty acids increase and linoleic acid decreases with age: Observations from 160,000 patients,” Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids January 30, 2013; pii: S0952-3278(12)00211-6.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »