Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and health

Michelle A. Briggs, Kate J. Bowen, Penny M. Kris-Etherton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


There is mounting evidence that long-chain omega 3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have many health benets. These long-chain n-3 PUFAs include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; 18:3n-3 or 18:3 Δ9,12,15), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; 20:5n-3 or 20:5 Δ5,8,11,14,17), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; 22:5n-3 or 22:5 Δ7,10,13,16,19), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6n-3 or 22:6 Δ4,7,10,13,16,19). Their health benets appear to be associated with several different aspects, including their structure, their interactions with proteins that alter gene expression, and their unique metabolic fates. Structurally, when long-chain n-3 PUFAs are incorporated into cell membranes, they increase membrane uidity, thereby inuencing cell function. For example, higher n-3 PUFA content in neuronal membranes has been shown to improve neuron function [1]. Besides affecting membrane uidity, these fatty acids can also inuence the structure and function of proteins embedded in the phospholipid bilayer [2]. As mediators of cell sensors and receptors (e.g., G protein-coupled receptor 120 [3]), long-chain n-3 PUFAs also have a major impact on gene expression [4]. But perhaps the most studied aspect of long-chain n-3 PUFA relates to their metabolic fates. These fatty acids enter biochemical pathways that produce anti-inammatory compounds (Figure 23.1); in turn, these anti-inammatory agents decrease the risk of chronic diseases [5].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFood Lipids
Subtitle of host publicationChemistry, Nutrition, and Biotechnology, Fourth Edition
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781498744874
ISBN (Print)9781498744850
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine
  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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