Scientists at the University of Alabama have found that a combination of aging and excess dietary fat creates conditions that lead to heart failure after a heart attack. In mouse models, excess omega-6 fatty acid led to increased heart inflammation compared to a lower fat diet.
The mice were fed a diet enriched with safflower oil (a vegetable oil made from safflowers, which is high in Omega-6). Scientists observed a reduction in a group of lipids called resolvins. These lipids are produced by the body from essential dietary fat and help to heal acute inflammation. Researchers also noticed the mice had higher levels of pro-inflammatory immune cells and increased levels of inflammation-promoting cytokines.
The western diet typically contains a high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 due to consumption of vegetable oils and hydrogenated fats. On the other hand, the Mediterranean diet has a much lower ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3, and those who consume this type of diet are less likely to develop heart disease. Is it time we switch to a more Mediterranean diet?