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Keywords:

  • n-3 fatty acids;
  • eicosapentaenoic acid;
  • docosahexaenoic acid;
  • fish oil;
  • functional foods

ABSTRACT:  n-3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) of marine origin have been shown to be essential for brain development and cognitive function. In addition to their essentiality, the scientific literature is full of evidence to suggest that regular consumption and/or dietary supplementation with long chain n-3PUFA give several health benefits including: prevention of cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, dyslexia, and depression. Long chain n-3PUFA intake in the Western countries, including Australia, has been shown to be inadequate. This is largely due to the fact that the Western populations do not eat seafood on a regular basis because of its cost and availability, and many individuals do not like the flavor/taste/odor of seafood. Foods fortified with long chain n-3PUFA could play an important role in meeting the demands for optimal health. Marine n-3PUFA are not likely to compete with saturated, monounsaturated, and n-6PUFA as a major source of dietary fat; however, increasing the intake of foods containing marine n-3PUFA is an important strategy for the prevention of chronic illnesses. Recent developments in food technology allow fortification of foods, such as bread, dairy products, eggs, pasta, biscuits, margarines, and other spreads, without the undesirable fish odor/taste and with reasonable shelf life. There is a need to increase the amount of long chain n-3PUFA consumed per serve and optimize their bioavailability. This article reviews the foods fortified with marine n-3PUFA and their role in meeting daily requirements, and highlights the need for further research in this important area of functional foods.