Microalgae as an alternative source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids

Research

Microalgae are exponentially growing aquatic organisms that perform photosynthesis very efficiently. Compared to traditional agricultural plants, they have a high areal productivity, and contain potentially interesting proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. Furthermore, they contain a characteristic lipid composition with fatty acids often differing from those in higher animal and plant organisms. The most interesting fatty acids are the long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA, DPA, DHA), since they provide important health benefits. Moreover, the human body cannot synthesize these long chain omega-3 PUFA, and cannot efficiently convert the short chain omega-3 PUFA (ALA), as present in some plants, into the long chain versions. Therefore dietary intake of these long chain omega-3 PUFA is highly important! Their traditional sources (seafood) give rise to concerns about pollutants and issues about sustainability. The aim of this project is therefore to evaluate microalgae oils as an alternative source of long-chain omega-3 PUFA, but also as a source of other interesting fatty acids, phytosterols and antioxidants. This study is performed as part of the Flanders’ Food project OMEGA-OIL.

 

Staff members

Eline Ryckebosch