Bioactive Fish Fatty Acids: Health Effects and Their Use as Functional Food Ingredients
Natale G. Frega.
The nutritional benefits of fish or fish oil consumption lies predominantly in its advantageous fatty acid profile,
which is rich in long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3 PUFA). Evidence from a large number of epidemiological
studies, clinical studies and intervention trials have established the protective effect of ω3 PUFA against several
diseases. New experimental evidence also indicates the presence in fish oils of other class of bioactive fatty acids, such as
the furan fatty acid (F-acids). Dietary recommendations suggest that the consumption of ω3 PUFA should be increased.
The great variability of fatty acid composition of fish species throughout the year should be considered when fish are suggested
as a means of improving health or used for oil extraction.
The fish oil remains the principal source of ω3 PUFA as an ingredient into conventional food products enrichment and in
ω3 PUFA concentrates production (i.e. integrator, nutraceutical), even if a variety of alternative ω3 PUFA sources, such
as bacteria, fungi, plants and microalgae are currently being explored for commercial production. The present review
summarizes the beneficial effects of ω3 PUFA dietary supplementation on cardiovascular disease, neurological disorder
and type 2 diabetes as well as the biological actions of F-acids. Furthermore, in order to present the fish as a dietary source
of bioactive fatty acids, differences in fatty acid composition of various fish species are recognized. The alternative ways
to ensure an optimal ω3 PUFA intake are also provided by illustrating the possible applications of fish oil on the ω3
PUFA enrichment of functional foods.
Keywords: Bioactive foods, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), fish oil, food enrichment, functional
food, furan fatty acids, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
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