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The omega-3 and omega-6 fats in meals: A proposal for a simple new label


OBJECTIVE: The omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are separate essential dietary fatty acids that play a key role in many physiologic processes in higher animals. The content of these PUFAs is relatively well described for many individual food components. Our goal in this study was to analyze the PUFA content of whole meals and produce a simple measurement to estimate the intake of these fatty acids. METHODS: The fatty acid profile and macronutrient composition were determined for a range of fast food, cuisine (restaurant-prepared), and home-prepared whole meals commonly consumed by Australians. RESULTS: Across the different meals there was significant variation in protein (4-fold), fat (13-fold), and carbohydrate (23-fold) contents. With regard to the fatty acid profile, saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids made up approximately 80% of total fatty acids for most meals. The omega-6 PUFAs were substantially more abundant than omega-3 PUFAs for most meals. The balance of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs is an important determinant of their metabolic effects within the body, and accordingly we calculated the percentage of the total PUFA comprised of omega-3 PUFAs and referred to this as the PUFA Balance. This parameter showed the greatest variation among the different meals (>45-fold). CONCLUSION: The relative proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 PUFAs vary greatly across meals. PUFA Balance is a useful tool that will allow individuals to more easily monitor and balance their intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fats.

Type Journal
ISBN 1873-1244 (Electronic) 0899-9007 (Linking)
Authors Turner, N.; Mitchell, T. W.; Else, P. L.; Hulbert, A. J.;
Responsible Garvan Author (missing name)
Publisher Name NUTRITION
Published Date 2011-01-01
Published Volume 27
Published Issue 6
Published Pages 719-26
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version