Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA): A healthy omega 6 fatty acid

Omega 3 fatty acids, found in wild salmon and flaxseed, are touted for their array of health benefits, including improving heart health and preventing arthritis, diabetes, depression, types of cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Meanwhile, omega 6s have gotten a pretty bad rap. But there is one type of this fatty acid that we shouldn't be so quick to avoid. Unlike linoleic acid and arachidonic acid (AA), two omega 6 fatty acids that can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, and depression, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is proven to reduce inflammation, according to the University of Maryland. There are just a few natural sources of GLA-- hempseed, evening primrose, borage, and black courant. Hempseed, in its many forms, may be the most versatile if you're looking to incorporate GLA into your daily diet. And it may be giving omega 3-rich flaxseed a run for its money.

A 2008 study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology showed hemp may help fight heart disease by increasing GLA levels. Look for products from companies including Manitoba Harvest, Nutiva Organic, and Living Harvest. The seed comes in various forms like milk, flour, and oil for cooking. Plus, you can simply add the shelled seeds to sandwiches, preserves, muffin batters, or yogurt parfaits.

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