n-3 fatty acid enrichment of edible tissue of poultry: A review
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There is clear evidence of the nutritional benefits of consuming long-chain n-3 PUFA, which are found predominantly in oily fish. However, oily fish consumption, particularly in the United Kingdom, is declining, as is the consumption of all meats with the exception of poultry, which has increased in consumption by 73% in the last 30 yr. This pattern, if less marked, is reflected throughout Europe, and therefore one means of increasing long-chain n-3 PUFA consumption would be to increase the long-chain n-3 PUFA content in the edible tissues of poultry. This review considers the feasibility of doing this, concentrating particularly on chickens and turkeys. It begins by summarizing the benefits to human health of consuming greater quantities of n-3 FA and the sources of n-3 PUFA in the human diet. The literature on altering the FA composition of poultry meat is then reviewed, and the factors affecting the incorporation of n-3 PUFA into edible tissues of poultry are investigated. The concentration of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the edible tissues of poultry is readily increased by increasing the concentration of ALA in the birds' diet (particularly meat with skin, and dark meat to a greater extent than white meat). The concentration of EPA in both white and dark meat is also increased when the birds' diet is supplemented with EPA, although supplementing the diet with the precursor (ALA) does not result in a noticeable increase in EPA content in the edible tissues. Although supplementing the birds' diets with relatively high concentrations of DHA does result in an increased concentration of DHA in the tissues, the relationship between dietary and tissue concentrations of DHA is much weaker than that observed with ALA and EPA. The impact that altering the FA composition of edible poultry tissue may have on the organoleptic and storage qualities of poultry products is also considered.