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The Debate about n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Recommendations for Cardiovascular Health

      The dietetics profession has been guided by advances in science that are translated to clinical practice guidelines. Inherent to advancing practice is the ongoing scientific dialogue. Progress made in clinical practice reflects the evolution of ideas and opinions that are subjected to additional scientific experimentation to advance our understanding and resolve “debates.” A good example of ongoing dialogue is the discussion about n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and heart health. The National Academies and the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2005 have recommended that PUFAs provide 5% to 10% of energy (
      Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine
      Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids.
      ,
      Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture
      Dietary Guidelines for Americans: The Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005.
      ). By comparison, the American Dietetic Association Fatty Acid Position paper advised that PUFAs provide 3% to 10% of energy. Although linoleic acid (LA) has long been recognized as an essential nutrient, the dialogue about how much LA to consume beyond the requirement is based on the extent to which higher PUFA intakes have beneficial or harmful effects. Proponents of the position that intake should be set at a level no higher than that which prevents an essential fatty acid deficiency (around 1% to 2% of energy) assert that higher PUFA intakes have deleterious health effects and, as a result, believe that n-6 PUFA intakes (and current dietary recommendations) should be decreased. Advocates of a higher PUFA intake disagree, citing evidence for health benefits with higher intakes. The purpose of this Commentary is to present these different perspectives and to discuss the American Heart Association Science Advisory on n-6 PUFA that supports the current dietary recommendation of 5% to 10% of energy for heart health.
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      Biography

      P. Kris-Etherton is a distinguished professor of Nutrition, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State University, University Park, PA

      Biography

      J. Fleming is clinical project coordinator, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State University, University Park, PA

      Biography

      W. S. Harris is director of the Cardiovascular Health Research Center, Sanford Research/USD and Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls, SD