During the recent decades, awareness towards the role of essential fatty acids in human health and disease prevention has been unremittingly increasing among people. Fish, fish oils and some vegetable oils are rich sources of essential fatty acids. Many studies have positively correlated essential fatty acids with reduction of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, infant development, cancer prevention, optimal brain and vision functioning, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and neurological/neuropsychiatric disorders. Beneficial effects may be mediated through several different mechanisms, including alteration in cell membrane composition, gene expression or eicosanoid production. However, the mechanisms whereby essential fatty acids affect gene expression are complex and involve multiple processes. Further understanding of the molecular aspects of essential fatty acids will be the key to devising novel approaches to the treatment and prevention of many diseases.
Keywords: Docosapentaenoic acid; Essential fatty acids; Functional foods; Omega-3 fatty acids; α-Linolenic acid.