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Meat Sci. 2006 Sep;74(1):209-18. doi: 10.1016/j.meatsci.2006.04.008. Epub 2006 May 3.

The role of meat as a source of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the human diet.

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Animal Science Research Group, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, P.O. Box 237, Reading, RG6 6AR, UK.


It is considered that consumption of very long chain (VLC, carbon chain length ⩾20) n-3 PUFAs in most Western populations is sub-optimal and benefits in relation to chronic disease would be gained from increased consumption. This review examines the current contribution that meat makes to dietary intake of VLC n-3 PUFA and given its current low contribution, how ruminant meat may be enriched. Enrichment both directly with VLC n-3 fatty acids and indirectly by increasing intake by the animals of α-linolenic acid (ALNA; C18:3 n-3) are considered. Since it now appears that dietary ALNA is a very limited source of VLC n-3 PUFA in humans, the indirect route is controversial but since some forages are rich sources of ALNA this route has many sustainability and environmental attractions. Consideration is also given to the increased concentrations of trans and conjugated fatty acids that will arise from enriching ruminant meat with PUFA.

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