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Int J Food Sci Nutr. 1998 Sep;49(5):343-52.

Lipid content and fatty acid composition in foods commonly consumed by nursing Congolese women: incidences on their essential fatty acid intakes and breast milk fatty acids.

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  • 1Tropical Nutrition Unit, ORSTOM, Montpellier, France.


The fat content and fatty acid (FA) composition of nearly 40 foods, currently consumed by 102 nursing Congolese mothers living in Brazzaville, were determined to assess their impact on mothers' essential fatty acid (EFA) intakes and breast milk FA. Data on mothers' milk FA and dietary habits which allowed food selection were recently published (Rocquelin et al., 1998). Most foods were locally produced. Food samples were collected at local markets, bleached if necessary to avoid microbial degradation, and stored at +4 degrees C or -20 degrees C. They were lyophilized upon their arrival in the laboratory before lipid analyses. FA composition of food lipids was determined by capillary gas chromatography. Staple diets included low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods (processed cassava roots, wheat bread) and high-polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) foods: soybean oil (high in 18 : 2 n-6 and alpha-18 : 3 n-3), bushbutter (dacryodes edulis), peanuts, avocado (high in fat and 18 : 2 n-6), freshwater and salt-water fish (high in LC n-3 and/or n-6 PUFA), and leafy green vegetables (low in fat but very high in alpha-18 : 3 n-3). Their frequent consumption by nursing mothers provided enough EFA to meet requirements due to lactation. It also explains why mothers' breast milk was rich in C8-C14 saturated FA (26% of total FA) and in n-6, n-3 PUFA (respectively 15.0% and 2.4% of total FA) highly profitable for breastfed infants' development. From this point of view, dietary habits of Congolese mothers have to be sustained for they are more adequate than most Western-type diets.

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