Eat more linoleic acid

This form of omega-6 fatty acids may help you live longer.

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A new study from researchers at the University of Eastern Finland shows that men who had the highest levels of linoleic acid in their blood, a biomarker for high intake, were 43 percent less likely to die early than those with the lowest levels of the nutrient.

A form of omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid improves glucose and insulin metabolism, prevents liver fat from accumulating, and lowers LDL cholesterol, says study author Jyrki Virtanen, Ph.D., adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at UEF’s Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition in Joensuu. The study was conducted on men, but the links between linoleic acid and health are most likely similar in women, he explains.

Increasing your consumption of the nutrient can reduce disease risk factors in a matter of weeks or months, Virtanen says. “However, because you can’t feel if your blood cholesterol profile is off or if you have increased inflammation in your body, you may not feel differently.”


There’s no official guideline, but the National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Medicine suggest men and women aim for 17 and 12 grams of linoleic acid per day, respectively. Get your dose from vegetable oils and unsalted nuts and seeds, Virtanen says, like sunflower oil (10 grams per tablespoon) and pine nuts (eight grams per ounce).