British Journal of Nutrition

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

When balanced for precursor fatty acid supply echium oil is not superior to linseed oil in enriching lamb tissues with long-chain n-3 PUFA

Soressa M. Kitessaa1a2 p1 c1, Paul Younga1a2, Greg Nattrassa1a3, Graham Gardnera1a4, Kelly Pearcea1a4 and David W. Pethicka1a4

a1 Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation, Armidale, NSW 2350, Australia

a2 CSIRO Livestock Industries, Private Bag 5, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia

a3 South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Roseworthy Campus, JS Davies Building, Roseworthy, SA 5371, Australia

a4 School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia


Vegetable oils containing stearidonic acid (SDA, 18 : 4n-3) are considered better precursors of long-chain n-3 PUFA (LC n-3 PUFA) than those with only α-linolenic acid (ALA, 18 : 3n-3). The present study re-examined this premise using treatments where added ALA from linseed oil was matched with ALA plus SDA from echium oil. Lambs (n 6) were abomasally infused with saline (control (C), 25 ml), echium oil low (EL, 25 ml), echium oil high (EH, 50 ml), linseed oil low (LL, 25 ml) or linseed oil high (LH, 50 ml) for 4 weeks. The basal ration used was identical across all treatments. EPA (20 : 5n-3) in meat increased from 6·5 mg in the C lambs to 16·8, 17·7, 13·5 and 11·7 (sem 0·86) mg/100 g muscle in the EL, EH, LL and LH lambs, respectively. For muscle DPA (docosapentaenoic acid; 22 : 5n-3), the corresponding values were 14·3, 22·2, 18·6 18·2 and 19·4 (sem 0·57) mg/100 g muscle. The DHA (22 : 6n-3) content of meat was 5·8 mg/100 g in the C lambs and ranged from 4·53 to 5·46 (sem 0·27) mg/100 g muscle in the oil-infused groups. Total n-3 PUFA content of meat (including ALA and SDA) increased from 39 mg to 119, 129, 121 and 150 (sem 12·3) mg/100 g muscle. We conclude that both oil types were effective in enhancing the EPA and DPA, but not DHA, content of meat. Furthermore, we conclude that, when balanced for precursor n-3 fatty acid supply, differences between linseed oil and echium oil in enriching meat with LC n-3 PUFA were of little, if any, nutritional significance.

(Received June 09 2011)

(Revised September 02 2011)

(Accepted September 02 2011)

(Online publication October 20 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: S. M. Kitessa, fax +61 08 83038841, email

p1 Present address: CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, PO Box 10 041, Adelaide BC 5000, Australia.


Abbreviations: ALA, α-linolenic acid; C, control; DPA, docosapentaenoic acid; EH, echium oil high; EL, echium oil low; GR, total tissue thickness over the twelfth rib, 110 mm out from the backbone; LA, linoleic acid; LC n-3 PUFA, long-chain n-3 PUFA; LH, linseed oil high; LL, linseed oil low; SDA, stearidonic acid