Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Potential Sources in the Malaysian Diet with the Goal Towards Achieving Recommended Nutrient Intakes
Ng, T.K.W., (2006) Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Potential Sources in the Malaysian Diet with the Goal Towards Achieving Recommended Nutrient Intakes. Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, 12 (2). pp. 181-188. ISSN 1394-035X
Official URL: http://nutriweb.org.my/publications/mjn0012_2/mjn12n2_art5.pdf
Institute for Medical Research Malaysia, Nutrition Unit
Omega-3 fatty acid nutrition is widely recognised as essential to health and general well-being. However, health professionals and the general public in Malaysia may lack knowledge on the sources or the amounts of these essential fat components in foods. This paper attempts to correct this scenario by identifying the potential sources of omega-3 fatty acids [a-linolenic acid (ALA), or eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) + docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)] in the Malaysian diet and calculating the amounts of these “nutrients” provided per serving of a wide variety of foods. The information generated provides Malaysian health professionals and consumers with options in food choices or meal planning with the goal towards achieving the recommended nutrient intakes for omega-3 fatty acids. The findings in the present study revealed that the potential sources of omega-3 fatty acids in the Malaysian diet in decreasing order are: edible oils (ALA), fish and fish products (EPA+DHA), vegetables (ALA), meat and eggs (EPA+DHA), and milk/milk products (EPA+DHA). Edible oils which are exceptionally high in ALA such as flaxseed oil and perilla oil are presently unavailable at local retail outlets and supermarkets. However, consumers can still meet the recommended nutrient intakes (RNIs) for omega-3 fatty acids of 0.3 to 1.2% energy (equivalent to 0.67g-2.67g) by choosing a wellbalanced diet prepared preferably with a cooking oil blend containing ALA, and one or more servings daily from at least three of the following food groups: (i) fish (“jelawat”, “siakap”, sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon)/seafoods (shrimps, crab)/meat, (ii) vegetables/soybean/ soybean-based products/beans and peas, (iii) omega-3 enriched/fortified foods (eg. “omega-3 eggs”), and (iv) ready-to-drink omega-3 milk preparations/soybean milk.
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