Stearidonic acid-enriched soybean oil increased the omega-3 index, an emerging cardiovascular risk marker

William S. Harris, Shawna L. Lemke, Susan N. Hansen, Daniel A. Goldstein, Maureen A. DiRienzo, Hong Su, Margaret A. Nemeth, Mary L. Taylor, Gulam Ahmed, Cherian George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


A plant source of omega-3 fatty acid (FA) that can raise tissue eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and/or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is needed. A soybean oil (SBO) containing approximately 20% stearidonic acid [SDA; the delta-6 desaturase product of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)] derived from genetically modified soybeans is under development. This study compared the effects of EPA to SDA-SBO on erythrocyte EPA + DHA levels (the omega-3 index). Overweight healthy volunteers (n = 45) were randomized to SDA-SBO (24 ml/day providing ~3.7 g SDA) or to regular SBO (control group) without or with EPA ethyl esters (~1 g/day) for 16 weeks. Serum lipids, blood pressure, heart rate, platelet function and safety laboratory tests were measured along with the omega-3 index. A per-protocol analysis was conducted on 33 subjects (11 per group). Compared to baseline, average omega-3 index levels increased 19.5% in the SDA group and 25.4% in the EPA group (p < 0.05 for both, vs. control). DHA did not change in any group. Relative to EPA, SDA increased RBC EPA with about 17% efficiency. No other clinical endpoints were affected by SDA or EPA treatment (vs. control). In conclusion, SDA-enriched SBO significantly raised the omega-3 index. Since EPA supplementation has been shown to raise the omega-3 index and to lower risk for cardiac events, SDA-SBO may be a viable plant-based alternative for providing meaningful intakes of cardioprotective omega-3 FAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-811
Number of pages7
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Risk factors
  • Soybean oil
  • Stearidonic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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