JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Fortification of foods with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

Balasubramanian Ganesan, Carl Brothersen, Donald J McMahon
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2014, 54 (1): 98-114
24188235
A $600 million nutritional supplements market growing at 30% every year attests to consumer awareness of, and interests in, health benefits attributed to these supplements. For over 80 years the importance of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) consumption for human health has been established. The FDA recently approved the use of ω-3 PUFAs in supplements. Additionally, the market for ω-3 PUFA ingredients grew by 24.3% last year, which affirms their popularity and public awareness of their benefits. PUFAs are essential for normal human growth; however, only minor quantities of the beneficial ω-3 PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are synthesized by human metabolism. Rather PUFAs are obtained via dietary or nutritional supplementation and modified into other beneficial metabolites. A vast literature base is available on the health benefits and biological roles of ω-3 PUFAs and their metabolism; however, information on their dietary sources and palatability of foods incorporated with ω-3 PUFAs is limited. DHA and EPA are added to many foods that are commercially available, such as infant and pet formulae, and they are also supplemented in animal feed to incorporate them in consumer dairy, meat, and poultry products. The chief sources of EPA and DHA are fish oils or purified preparations from microalgae, which when added to foods, impart a fishy flavor that is considered unacceptable. This fishy flavor is completely eliminated by extensively purifying preparations of n-3 PUFA sources. While n-3 PUFA lipid autoxidation is considered the main cause of fishy flavor, the individual oxidation products identified thus far, such as unsaturated carbonyls, do not appear to contribute to fishy flavor or odor. Alternatively, various compound classes such as free fatty acids and volatile sulfur compounds are known to impart fishy flavor to foods. Identification of the causative compounds to reduce and eventually eliminate fishy flavor is important for consumer acceptance of PUFA-fortified foods.

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