People with the highest blood levels of linoleic acid—which is found in omega-6—were 43 per cent less likely to die prematurely than those who had the lowest levels in their blood, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have found.
Their discovery adds to the growing list of health benefits that omega-6 delivers; it's already known, for example, that it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, and can counteract type 2 diabetes. This is because linoleic acid converts into arachidonic acid when it's in the body, which is an anti-inflammatory compound.
In the new study, the researchers monitored fatty acid levels in blood samples taken from 2,480 men aged between 42 and 60. Their health was tracked for 22 years, and, during that time, 1,143 of them died from a disease. Other deaths caused by an accident, for instance, were discounted.
The group was divided down into five sub-groups based on their blood linoleic acid levels, and those with the highest levels were also the least likely to die prematurely or suffer from heart disease. There was no protective effect against cancer, however.