Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Fatty acid


Over the last century, intakes of omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acids in Western diets have dramatically increased, while omega-3 (ω-3) intakes have fallen. Resulting ω-6/ω-3 intake ratios have risen to nutritionally undesirable levels, generally 10 to 15, compared to a possible optimal ratio near 2.3. We report results of the first large-scale, nationwide study of fatty acids in U.S. organic and conventional milk. Averaged over 12 months, organic milk contained 25% less ω-6 fatty acids and 62% more ω-3 fatty acids than conventional milk, yielding a 2.5-fold higher ω-6/ω-3 ratio in conventional compared to organic milk (5.77 vs. 2.28). All individual ω-3 fatty acid concentrations were higher in organic milk-α-linolenic acid (by 60%), eicosapentaenoic acid (32%), and docosapentaenoic acid (19%)-as was the concentration of conjugated linoleic acid (18%). We report mostly moderate regional and seasonal variability in milk fatty acid profiles. Hypothetical diets of adult women were modeled to assess milk fatty-acid-driven differences in overall dietary ω-6/ω-3 ratios. Diets varied according to three choices: high instead of moderate dairy consumption; organic vs. conventional dairy products; and reduced vs. typical consumption of ω-6 fatty acids. The three choices together would decrease the ω-6/ω-3 ratio among adult women by ∼80% of the total decrease needed to reach a target ratio of 2.3, with relative impact “switch to low ω-6 foods” > “switch to organic dairy products” ≈ “increase consumption of conventional dairy products.” Based on recommended servings of dairy products and seafoods, dairy products supply far more α-linolenic acid than seafoods, about one-third as much eicosapentaenoic acid, and slightly more docosapentaenoic acid, but negligible docosahexaenoic acid. We conclude that consumers have viable options to reduce average ω-6/ω-3 intake ratios, thereby reducing or eliminating probable risk factors for a wide range of developmental and chronic health problems.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid, Butter, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Omega-6 fatty acid, Linoleic acid


To systematically review associations between intake of saturated fat and trans unsaturated fat and all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and associated mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD) and associated mortality, ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Hypertension, Heart, Fat, Heart disease, Saturated fat, Unsaturated fat


This article describes the nutrient and elemental composition, including residues of herbicides and pesticides, of 31 soybean batches from Iowa, USA. The soy samples were grouped into three different categories: (i) genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant soy (GM-soy); (ii) unmodified soy cultivated using a conventional “chemical” cultivation regime; and (iii) unmodified soy cultivated using an organic cultivation regime. Organic soybeans showed the healthiest nutritional profile with more sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose, significantly more total protein, zinc and less fibre than both conventional and GM-soy. Organic soybeans also contained less total saturated fat and total omega-6 fatty acids than both conventional and GM-soy. GM-soy contained high residues of glyphosate and AMPA (mean 3.3 and 5.7 mg/kg, respectively). Conventional and organic soybean batches contained none of these agrochemicals. Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterise each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating “substantial non-equivalence” in compositional characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Glucose, Omega-3 fatty acid, Fat, Soybean, Saturated fat, Sucrose


Considerable mechanistic data indicate there may be a sixth basic taste: fat. However, evidence demonstrating that the sensation of nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA, the proposed stimuli for “fat taste”) differs qualitatively from other tastes is lacking. Using perceptual mapping, we demonstrate that medium and long-chain NEFA have a taste sensation that is distinct from other basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). Although some overlap was observed between these NEFA and umami taste, this overlap is likely due to unfamiliarity with umami sensations rather than true similarity. Shorter chain fatty acids stimulate a sensation similar to sour, but as chain length increases this sensation changes. Fat taste oral signaling, and the different signals caused by different alkyl chain lengths, may hold implications for food product development, clinical practice, and public health policy.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fat, Food, Fatty acid metabolism, Difference, Taste, Tongue


Omega-3 fatty acids are dietary essentials, and the current low intakes in most modern developed countries are believed to contribute to a wide variety of physical and mental health problems. Evidence from clinical trials indicates that dietary supplementation with long-chain omega-3 may improve child behavior and learning, although most previous trials have involved children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or developmental coordination disorder (DCD). Here we investigated whether such benefits might extend to the general child population.

Concepts: Psychology, Nutrition, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid, Mental disorder, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Docosahexaenoic acid


The desire to consume high volumes of fat is thought to originate from an evolutionary pressure to hoard calories, and fat is among the few energy sources that we can store over a longer time period. From an ecological perspective, however, it would be beneficial to detect fat from a distance, before ingesting it. Previous results indicate that humans detect high concentrations of fatty acids by their odor. More important though, would be the ability to detect fat content in real food products. In a series of three sequential experiments, using study populations from different cultures, we demonstrated that individuals are able to reliably detect fat content of food via odors alone. Over all three experiments, results clearly demonstrated that humans were able to detect minute differences between milk samples with varying grades of fat, even when embedded within a milk odor. Moreover, we found no relation between this performance and either BMI or dairy consumption, thereby suggesting that this is not a learned ability or dependent on nutritional traits. We argue that our findings that humans can detect the fat content of food via odors may open up new and innovative future paths towards a general reduction in our fat intake, and future studies should focus on determining the components in milk responsible for this effect.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Eating, Fat, Fatty acid metabolism, Butter, Saturated fat, Carbohydrate


Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) are bioactive components of membrane phospholipids and serve as substrates for signaling molecules. LCPUFA can be obtained directly from animal foods or synthesized endogenously from 18 carbon precursors via the FADS2 coded enzyme. Vegans rely almost exclusively on endogenous synthesis to generate LCPUFA and we hypothesized that an adaptive genetic polymorphism would confer advantage. The rs66698963 polymorphism, a 22-bp insertion-deletion within FADS2, is associated with basal FADS1 expression, and coordinated induction of FADS1 and FADS2 in vitro. Here, we determined rs66698963 genotype frequencies from 234 individuals of a primarily vegetarian Indian population and 311 individuals from the US. A much higher I/I genotype frequency was found in Indians (68%) than in the US (18%). Analysis using 1000 Genomes Project data confirmed our observation, revealing a global I/I genotype of 70% in South Asians, 53% in Africans, 29% in East Asians, and 17% in Europeans. Tests based on population divergence, site frequency spectrum, and long-range haplotype consistently point to positive selection encompassing rs66698963 in South Asian, African, and some East Asian populations. Basal plasma phospholipid arachidonic acid (ARA) status was 8% greater in I/I compared with D/D individuals. The biochemical pathway product-precursor difference, ARA minus linoleic acid, was 31% and 13% greater for I/I and I/D compared with D/D, respectively. This study is consistent with previous in vitro data suggesting that the insertion allele enhances n-6 LCPUFA synthesis and may confer an adaptive advantage in South Asians because of the traditional plant-based diet practice.

Concepts: Genetics, Allele, Fatty acid, Fatty acids, Essential fatty acid, Omega-6 fatty acid, Linoleic acid, Arachidonic acid


Ketone bodies are the most energy-efficient fuel and yield more ATP per mole of substrate than pyruvate and increase the free energy released from ATP hydrolysis. Elevation of circulating ketones via high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets has been used for the treatment of drug-refractory epilepsy and for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease. Ketones may also be beneficial for muscle and brain in times of stress, such as endurance exercise. The challenge has been to raise circulating ketone levels by using a palatable diet without altering lipid levels. We found that blood ketone levels can be increased and cholesterol and triglycerides decreased by feeding rats a novel ketone ester diet: chow that is supplemented with ®-3-hydroxybutyl ®-3-hydroxybutyrate as 30% of calories. For 5 d, rats on the ketone diet ran 32% further on a treadmill than did control rats that ate an isocaloric diet that was supplemented with either corn starch or palm oil (P < 0.05). Ketone-fed rats completed an 8-arm radial maze test 38% faster than did those on the other diets, making more correct decisions before making a mistake (P < 0.05). Isolated, perfused hearts from rats that were fed the ketone diet had greater free energy available from ATP hydrolysis during increased work than did hearts from rats on the other diets as shown by using [(31)P]-NMR spectroscopy. The novel ketone diet, therefore, improved physical performance and cognitive function in rats, and its energy-sparing properties suggest that it may help to treat a range of human conditions with metabolic abnormalities.-Murray, A. J., Knight, N. S., Cole, M. A., Cochlin, L. E., Carter, E., Tchabanenko, K., Pichulik, T., Gulston, M. K., Atherton, H. J., Schroeder, M. A., Deacon, R. M. J., Kashiwaya, Y., King, M. T., Pawlosky, R., Rawlins, J. N. P., Tyler, D. J., Griffin, J. L., Robertson, J., Veech, R. L., Clarke, K. Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance.

Concepts: Metabolism, Nutrition, Adenosine triphosphate, Fatty acid, Lipid, Ketone, Ketone bodies, Carbohydrate


BACKGROUND: Given that acne is a rare condition in societies with higher consumption of omega-3 (n-3) relative to omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids, supplementation with n-3 may suppress inflammatory cytokine production and thereby reduce acne severity. METHODS: 13 individuals with inflammatory acne were given three grams of fish oil containing 930 mg of EPA to their unchanged diet and existing acne remedies for 12 weeks. Acne was assessed using an overall severity grading scale, total inflammatory lesion counts, and colorimetry. FINDINGS: There was no significant change in acne grading and inflammatory counts at week 12 compared to baseline. However, there was a broad range of response to the intervention on an individual basis. The results showed that acne severity improved in 8 individuals, worsened in 4, and remained unchanged in 1. Interestingly, among the individuals who showed improvement, 7 were classified as having moderate to severe acne at baseline, while 3 of the 4 whose acne deteriorated were classified as having mild acne. CONCLUSION: There is some evidence that fish oil supplementation is associated with an improvement in overall acne severity, especially for individuals with moderate to severe acne. Divergent responses to fish oil in our pilot study indicates that dietary and supplemental lipids are worthy of further investigation in acne.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Essential fatty acid, Omega-3 fatty acid, Fat, Eicosapentaenoic acid, Omega-6 fatty acid, Fish oil


Early randomized controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrated the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (n-3), whereas recent RCTs were negative. We now address the issue, focusing on the temporal changes having occurred: most patients in recent RCTs are no longer n-3 deficient and the vast majority are now treated with statins. Recent RCTs testing n-3 against arrhythmias suggest that n-3 reduce the risk only in patients not taking a statin. Other recent RCTs in secondary prevention were negative although, in a post-hoc analysis separating statin users and non-users, non-significant protection of n-3 was observed among statin non-users whereas statin users had no effect. Recent RCTs testing statins - after the implementation of the New Clinical Trial Regulation in 2007 - are negative (or flawed) suggesting that the lack of effect of n-3 cannot be attributed to a parallel protection by statins. Finally, statins favor the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acids (n-6), which in turn inhibits n-3 and, contrary to n-3, they increase insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes.Thus, n-3 and statins are counteractive at several levels and statins appear to inhibit n-3.

Concepts: Nutrition, Fatty acid, Triglyceride, Essential fatty acid, Omega-3 fatty acid, Clinical research, Omega-6 fatty acid, Omega-9 fatty acid