Large-scale plant cultivation could answer call for omega-3 sustainable source

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid

The pursuit of alternative omega-3 fatty acid sources that are closer biologically to omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in fish oils remains a key industry challenge.

Andrew Hebard, president and CEO of TCI, the holding company for Nature's Crops, spoke candidly at Vitafoods Europe about the challenges of sustaining the long-term global supply and scanned the scientific state-of-play.

The long-chain forms - EPA, along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – have shown to be the most health enhancing omega-3s and are perhaps the most well-known to consumers, especially for heart and brain health.

Plant sources like flax are richer in alpha linoleic acid (ALA) which convert in the body to EPA and DHA but at lower rates.

Land-based omega-3 production

Ahiflower flower 2
Farmers from the UK, Canada, and USA harvest the seeds to produce the Ahiflower oil. (© Ahiflower/Nature's Crops)

Ahiflower has demonstrated solid omega-3 bioavailability due to its stearidonic acid (SDA) content which humans readily convert to (EPA).

“Ahiflower converts to EPA 300-400% more efficiently than flaxseed oil,”​ said Hebard.  "Since Ahiflower also contains the omega-6 GLA, it combines fish oil benefits with evening primrose oil in one product.”

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