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High omega-3 fatty acid content in alpine cheese: the basis for an alpine paradox.
BACKGROUNDAlpha-linolenic acid (ALA) may protect from cardiovascular disease. Because fresh alpine grass contains high amounts of ALA, we hypothesized that the levels of omega-3 fatty acids would concentrate to nutritional relevance in the cheese of milk from cows with alpine grass feeding compared with cheese from silage and concentrate feeding; the newly available cheese produced from cows fed with linseed supplementation should contain even higher ALA concentrations.
METHODS AND RESULTSForty different cheeses were analyzed by gas chromatography for their fatty acid profile: (1) 12 from well-defined alpine regions around Gstaad, Switzerland; (2) 7 commercially available English cheddar cheeses; (3) 6 cheeses from cows fed with linseed supplementation; (4) 7 industrial-type Emmentals; and (5) 8 alpine cheeses with partial silage feeding. The alpine cheese contained 4 times more linolenic acid (C18:3omega-3) compared with cheddar, more total omega-3 fatty acids, and showed a significantly lower n-6:omega-3 ratio. Conjugated linoleic acid (C18:2 c9/t11) was 3-fold higher, whereas the amount of palmitic acid was 20% lower. The Emmental reached 40% of the ALA content compared with alpine cheese, and surprisingly, cheese from linseed-supplemented cows contained only 49% of that of the alpine cheese (P<0.001 for each trait in the 5 cheese groups).
CONCLUSIONSCheese made of milk from cows grazed on alpine pastures had a more favorable fatty acid profile than all other cheese types. Alpine cheese may be a relevant source of ALA and other cardioprotective fatty acids.
Department of Medicine, Kantonsspital Baden and the Federal Institue of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland.,
Circulation 109:1 2004 Jan 6 pg 103-7
Fatty Acids, Omega-3
Fatty Acids, Omega-6
Linoleic Acids, Conjugated
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't