chapter  Chapter 11
28 Pages

Dietary n-6:n-3 Fatty Acid Ratio and Health

WithSarah Gebauer, William S. Harris, M. Kris-Etherton, Terry D. Etherton

In this chapter, the authors review their understanding of the n-6: n-3 ratio and how changes in the ratio, and the absolute amounts of linoleic acid (LA) and a-linoleic acid affect numerous conditions including cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, bone health, mental status and cognitive function, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, immune function, and inflammatory status. Emerging evidence suggests that the diet strategies that have the greatest health benefits ensure adequate intake of LA and increased n-3 intake beyond that consumed. The n-6:n-3 ratio masks the quantity of individual n-6 or n-3 fatty acids presented to cells for metabolism. Dietary n-6 and n-3 fatty acids have both beneficial and potentially adverse effects on health outcomes. There is a rapidly growing literature about the relationships between the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids and many diseases and conditions including CVD, cancer, diabetes, bone health, conditions associated with mental health, arthritis, and asthma.