Snack Size Science: Ahoy to omega-3 from soy

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Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid, Epa

NutraIngredient’s Snack Size Science brings you the week's top science every two weeks. This week we cast our net for the newest science on sourcing fish oil from plants.

The following is a transcript of this podcast.

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This is NutraIngredients’s Snack Size Science​. I’m Stephen Daniells - bringing you the week’s top science in digestible amounts.

This week we look at how scientists put loaves and fishes on a collision course.

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the nutrition industry’s big fish with demand continuing to rise. Frost & Sullivan predicts the market to reel in an estimated 1.6 billion dollars by 2014.

But concerns over fish stocks have sent scientists casting their nets for alternatives sources for the most well known forms - EPA and DHA. Plant sources of the fatty acids, like flax, give us ALA, a shorter chain omega-3. Unfortunately, we are not very good at converting ALA to EPA and DHA.

Boffins from biotech giant Monsanto and soy company Solae have looked to genetic modification of soybeans as a potential remedy. By tweaking the genes of soy, they have developed plants which produce high levels of stearidonic acid, or SDA. In a scheme of omega-3 fatty acids, SDA comes between ALA and EPA. And while we are not very efficient at the conversion of ALA to EPA, we do a lot better converting SDA to EPA.

And new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ indicates that consuming the SDA-rich soybean oil may increase blood levels of the EPA by 13 per cent, compared to placebo.

So what next for the oil? At the recent IFT show in Chicago, representatives from Solae told us that the new ingredient has already been successfully tested in a range of products, including soups, sauces, yoghurts, and salad dressings.

With market launch set for 2012, only time will tell if the new soybean oil makes waves in the omega-3 market.

For NutraIngredients Snack Size Science, I’m Stephen Daniells.

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