Serious food-related health disorders may be prevented by recognizing the molecular processes that connect the dietary intake of vitamin-like fatty acids to tissue accumulation of precursors of potent hormone-like compounds that cause harmful tissue responses. Conversion of dietary 18-carbon omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to tissue 20- and 22-carbon highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) is catalyzed by promiscuous enzymes that allow different types of fatty acid to compete among each other for accumulation in tissue HUFA. As a result, food choices strongly influence the types of accumulated tissue HUFA. However, the conversion of tissue HUFA to active hormones and their receptor-mediated actions occurs with discriminating enzymes and receptors that give more intense responses for the omega-6 and omega-3 hormones. Undesired chronic health disorders, which are made worse by excessive omega-6 hormone actions, can be prevented by eating more omega-3 fats, less omega-6 fats, and fewer calories per meal.
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