While many believe adopting a diet rich in polyunsaturated fat is heart tonic, a new study finds it may lead to inflammatory bowel disease.
Ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the rectum and colon. The condition is characterized by abdominal pain and diarrhea.
According to the study published in Gut (International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology), the high intake of linoleic acid -- a common dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid found in many dietary sources such as red meat, various cooking oils (sunflower, safflower, soya, corn seeds and walnut oils) and some types of margarine -- accounts for one-third of ulcerative colitis cases.
The high content of the omega 3 fatty acid known as docosahexanoic acid found in oily fish such as salmon and herring, on the other hand, lowers the risk of the condition by 77 percent. Linoleic acid converts to arachidonic acid and various other inflammatory chemicals, high levels of which are found in the bowel tissue of patients with ulcerative colitis.
"There are no dietary modifications of benefit in patients with ulcerative colitis, although, based on this study's findings, a diet low in linoleic acid may merit investigation," concluded lead researcher Andrew Hart.