OMEGA-6 fatty acids - found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds - are a beneficial part of a heart-healthy eating plan, according to a science advisory published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The association recommends that people aim for at least 5 percent to 10 percent of calories from omega-6 fatty acids. Most Americans actually get enough of these oils in the foods they are currently eating, such as nuts, cooking oils and salad dressings, the advisory reports. Recommended daily servings of omega-6 depend on physical activity level, age and gender, but range from 12 to 22 grams per day. Omega-6, and the similarly-named omega-3 fatty acids (found in fattier fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon), are called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and can have health benefits when consumed in the recommended amounts, especially when used to replace saturated fats or trans fats in the diet. Omega-6 and omega-3 PUFA play a crucial role in heart and brain function and in normal growth and development. PUFA are "essential" fats that your body needs but can't produce, so you must get them from food. "Of course, as with any news about a single nutrient, it's important to remember to focus on an overall healthy dietary pattern - one nutrient or one type of food isn't a cure-all," said William Harris, Ph.D., lead author of the advisory. "Our goal was simply to let Americans know that foods containing omega-6 fatty acids can be part of a healthy diet, and can even help improve your cardiovascular risk profile." The American Heart Association's dietary recommendations suggest a broadly defined healthy eating pattern over time - with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, high-fiber whole grains, lean meat, poultry, and fish twice a week. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been associated in a large number of studies with reduced cardiovascular risk. Linoleic acid (LA) is the main omega-6 fatty acid in foods, accounting for 85 percent to 90 percent of the dietary omega-6 PUFA. - SD