IMPORTANCE AND METABOLISM OF ALPHA-LINOLENIC ACID: Alpha-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid which cannot be produced in the body and must be taken by food. Both in animals and humans, alpha-linolenic acid is desaturated and elongated into eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid. It is also incorporated into plasma and tissue lipids and its conversion is affected by levels of linoleic acid. POTENTIAL ROLE IN PATHOGENESIS OF CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES: Diet enriched in n-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid, reduces the incidence of cardiac death. Studies have shown that alpha linolenic acid prevents ventricular fibrillation which is the main cause of cardiac death. Studies in rats suggest that alpha-linolenic acid may be more effective in preventing ventricular fibrillations than eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid. Furthermore, alpha-linolenic acid is the main fatty acid decreasing platalet aggregation which is an important step in thrombosis i.e. non-fatal myocardial infarction and stroke. DIETARY SOURCES AND NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS: Dietary sources include flaxseed and flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean and soybean oil, pumpkin seed and pumpkin oil, walnuts and walnut oil. Strong evidence supports beneficial effects of alpha-linolenic acid and its dietary sources should be incorporated into balanced diet for prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The recommended daily intake is 2 g with a ratio of 5/1 for linoleic/alpha-linolenic acid.