Understanding the biological effects of n-3 fatty acids from different lipid sources to define optimal health promotion strategies
Lipids constitute a major energetic component of our daily diet. The major dietary lipids are animal and plant triglycerides (TGs), glycerophospholipids (PLs) and sterols. TGs and PLs represent two different lipid sources composed of a glycerol backbone to which fatty acids are esterified. Fatty acids are even-numbered carbon chains attached to a carboxylic acid. The carbon chain is either saturated or unsaturated. It is well known that specific fatty acids can impact metabolic enzymes, energy homeostasis, cellular signal transduction, the bacterial composition of the gut (microbiome), and act as precursors for anti-inflammatory molecules.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) represent a fatty acids class that contains at least two double bonds in their carbon chain. Interestingly, diets rich in n-3 PUFA have been proposed to protect against cardiometabolic and inflammatory diseases and are furthermore associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer disease and mental retardation. These potential health benefits render n-3 PUFA supplementation an attractive strategy to improve quality of life for our aging population. Insight into the impact of the lipid structure of n-3 supplements is however crucial to define strategies to achieve optimal health benefits.