A new study has revealed that including foods rich in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in your diet could significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The findings, published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, showed that individuals who had the highest blood level of linoleic acid – the major omega-6 fat – were 35 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who had the least amount. Linoleic acid is not formed in the body and can only be obtained from the diet.

Omega-6 fatty acids are and should be an important part of everyone’s daily diet, since they are essential to overall health. Health experts have emphasised its importance from time to time and decades of research have been devoted to discovering the many health benefits of omega-6. Found copiously in seeds and nuts, and the oils extracted from them, omega-6 fatty acids help in reducing nerve pain, fighting inflammation, treating rheumatoid arthritis, reducing hypertension, keeping heart disease at bay, supporting bone health, etc. For the study, the team analysed data from 20 studies involving 39,740 adults from 10 countries who were laboratory tested for levels of two key omega-6 markers – linoleic acid and arachidonic acid. “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,” said lead author Jason Wu, from The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney Linoleic acid was associated with lower risk, while levels of arachidonic acid were not significantly associated with either higher or lower risk of diabetes. Some previous studies have raised concerns that omega-6 may have negative health effects, such as inflammation leading to the increased risk of chronic diseases. Yet those who had the highest levels of blood omega-6 markers had a much lower chance of developing Type 2 diabetes, the researchers noted. “Some scientists have theorised that omega-6 is harmful to health,” Wu said. “But based on this study, we have demonstrated little evidence for harms, and indeed found that the major omega-6 fat is linked to lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.”

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