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Incorporation of (n-3) fatty acids in foods: challenges and opportunities.


The health benefits of long-chain (n-3) PUFA have been widely reported in the literature. Despite the potential benefits, consumption of these fatty acids continues to fall below recommendations from various health and regulatory agencies. Incorporation of long-chain PUFA in foods represents a considerable challenge due to the increased risk of lipid oxidation resulting in the development of off-flavors and reduced shelf life. As a result, new sources of (n-3) fatty acids are needed that are more efficiently converted to long-chain (n-3) fatty acids than α-linolenic acid (ALA) and can be more easily incorporated into food. Stearidonic acid [SDA, 18:4 (n-3)] is an intermediate in the desaturation of ALA to EPA. Soybeans have been modified to contain SDA. Clinical studies have demonstrated a significant increase in EPA levels when SDA is consumed. Being more stable, SDA has been added to a variety of foods and has demonstrated equal consumer acceptance compared to a regular soybean oil control. SDA-enhanced soybean oil can provide to food companies and consumers an option to increase (n-3) fatty acid consumption in foods consumers typically eat.