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ABSTRACT

Animal products enriched with n-3 fatty acids (FA) are receiving increasing interest because of the health benefits attributed to these FA. However, responses to the intake of enriched products with different n-3 fatty acid sources have not been properly assessed. Rabbits were fed a pelleted diet simulating a meat-based adult human diet. The meat fatty acid profile was steered by feeding pigs a diet with linseed or fish oil. Significant changes in the fatty acid profile of different tissues and blood were found in the rabbits. During the experiment, the total cholesterol (TC)/high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio decreased and the TC/low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (LDL-C) ratio increased in the fish oil pork group, while for the linseed oil pork group the TC/HDL-C ratio increased and no effect was measured for the TC/LDL-C ratio. The oxidative status was altered by the dietary treatments compared with the baseline and atherosclerosis developed during the experiment, but no differences between the two feeding groups were found.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

The beneficial health effects of n-3 fatty acids (FA) are mainly attributed to the very long chain n-3 FA eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-6, DHA). However, in most n-3-enriched food products, α-linolenic acid (C18:3n-3, ALA) is used as the source of n-3 FA, assuming that conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA will occur in the body after consumption. In this research, health biomarkers were evaluated in rabbits after consumption of pork enriched with n-3 FA originating from linseed oil- (ALA) or fish oil- (DHA + EPA) fed pigs. The results highlight the importance of selecting the appropriate n-3 fatty acid source for enriching food products, as pork from fish oil-fed pigs differently affected health parameters compared with pork from linseed oil-fed pigs.