Table 1:

Summary of common sources of evidence relating omega-6 linoleic acid or a mixture of linoleic and omega-3 α-linolenic acids to cardiovascular health benefits

Health benefitFatty acid; evidence of link to health benefit
Omega-6 linoleic acidMix of linoleic and α-linolenic acids
Lowers cholesterolYes2Yes2
Lowers risk of coronary artery disease in prospective cohort studies*Unclear3,4Yes3,4
Lowers risk of coronary artery disease in clinical trialsNo5Yes5
Health claim allowedYesYes
  • * Whereas mixed polyunsaturated fatty acids containing omega-3 α-linolenic acid have been found to be protective against coronary artery disease in prospective trials, one report that attempted to isolate linoleic acid’s effect found no protective effect.4 Nevertheless, it is unclear whether the methodology used in prospective cohorts can isolate linoleic acid from α-linolenic acid.6

  • Both the Sydney Diet Heart Study and a recent meta-analysis reported an increased risk of death from coronary artery disease, although the risk was not statistically significant in the meta-analysis (hazard ratio for death from coronary artery disease 1.33, 95% confidence interval 0.99–1.79).5