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Supply of essential n-3 PUFA is limited worldwide. While fish-oil supplementation effectively improves n-3 PUFA status, it may not be a sustainable intervention. The use of α-linolenic acid (ALA)-rich cooking oils in the household may be a suitable alternative but its effect on PUFA status is unclear. We aimed to compare the effect of providing families with soyabean oil, an ALA-rich cooking oil, v. sunflower oil on whole-blood PUFA levels of children aged 11–18 years.
In a randomized, masked, parallel trial, we assigned families to receive a one-month supply of either soyabean or sunflower oil. Fatty acid concentrations were quantified in whole-blood samples obtained from the children before and at the end of the intervention. Changes in fatty acids were compared between treatment arms with use of linear regression for repeated measures.
Sixty low- and middle-income families.
Soyabean oil significantly increased ALA concentrations by 0·05 percentage points of total serum fatty acids whereas sunflower oil decreased them by 0·12 percentage points (soyabean v. sunflower oil effect=0·17; 95 % CI 0·11, 0·24). Concentrations of both n-3 and n-6 very-long-chain PUFA, including docosapentaenoic acid, DHA, dihomo-γ-linolenic acid and arachidonic acid, increased significantly in both intervention arms. Levels of oleic acid and palmitic acid decreased, irrespective of oil assignment. Total energy or energy intake from saturated fat did not change.
Replacing cooking oils at the household level is an effective intervention to improve essential PUFA status of children.
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