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n-3 Fatty acids are associated with better cardiovascular and cognitive health. However, the concentration of EPA, DPA and DHA in different plasma lipid pools differs and factors influencing this heterogeneity are poorly understood. Our aim was to evaluate the association of oily fish intake, sex, age, BMI and APOE genotype with concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA in plasma phosphatidylcholine (PC), NEFA, cholesteryl esters (CE) and TAG. Healthy adults (148 male, 158 female, age 20–71 years) were recruited according to APOE genotype, sex and age. The fatty acid composition was determined by GC. Oily fish intake was positively associated with EPA in PC, CE and TAG, DPA in TAG, and DHA in all fractions (P≤0·008). There was a positive association between age and EPA in PC, CE and TAG, DPA in NEFA and CE, and DHA in PC and CE (P≤0·034). DPA was higher in TAG in males than females (P<0·001). There was a positive association between BMI and DPA and DHA in TAG (P<0·006 and 0·02, respectively). APOE genotype×sex interactions were observed: the APOE4 allele associated with higher EPA in males (P=0·002), and there was also evidence for higher DPA and DHA (P≤0·032). In conclusion, EPA, DPA and DHA in plasma lipids are associated with oily fish intake, sex, age, BMI and APOE genotype. Such insights may be used to better understand the link between plasma fatty acid profiles and dietary exposure and may influence intake recommendations across population subgroups.
The UK Food Standards Agency convened a group of expert scientists to review current research investigating the optimal dietary intake for n-9 cis-monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). The aim was to review the mechanisms underlying the reported beneficial effects of MUFA on CHD risk, and to establish priorities for future research. The issue of optimal MUFA intake is contingent upon optimal total fat intake; however, there is no consensus of opinion on what the optimal total fat intake should be. Thus, it was recommended that a large multi-centre study should look at the effects on CHD risk of MUFA replacement of saturated fatty acids in relation to varying total fat intakes; this study should be of sufficient size to take account of genetic variation, sex, physical activity and stage of life factors, as well as being of sufficient duration to account for adaptation to diets. Recommendations for studies investigating the mechanistic effects of MUFA were also made. Methods of manipulating the food chain to increase MUFA at the expense of saturated fatty acids were also discussed.
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