Dietary stearidonic acid is a long chain (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid with potential health benefits

J Nutr. 2009 Jan;139(1):5-10. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.094268. Epub 2008 Dec 3.


The therapeutic and health-promoting effects of (n-3) long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) from fish are well known, although these same benefits may not be shared by their precursor, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). World-wide agencies and scientific organizations (i.e. FDA, AHA, International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, Institute of Medicine, WHO, etc.) have made similar dietary recommendations for (n-3) LCPUFA; however, due to concerns regarding the safety of consuming fish, alternative sources of (n-3) LCPUFA are being investigated. One such lipid is stearidonic acid (SDA), a naturally occurring (n-3) PUFA that may have similar biological properties to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a major (n-3) PUFA in fish oil. Existing and novel plant sources rich in SDA are being cultivated and promoted as potential alternatives to marine-based (n-3) PUFA. This critical review provides a direct comparison of SDA with other dietary (n-3) PUFA under similar experimental conditions. The comparative results suggest that SDA shares many of the biological effects of (n-3) LCPUFA and functions most similarly to dietary EPA compared with ALA when consumed in a typical Western diet. Therefore, although SDA may not replace fish as a major dietary source of (n-3) LCPUFA, it could become a prominent surrogate for EPA in the commercial development of foods fortified with (n-3) PUFA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans
  • Rodentia


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • stearidonic acid