1Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Background and objective. Fatty acids of n-3 family are highly recommended for a healthy diet, to avoid cardiovascular affection in humans. Indeed, α-linolenic acid (C18.3n3), but mostly DHA (C22.6n3) and EPA (C20.5n3) consumption, allows to reduce coronary diseases in humans. Three procedures could improve intake of DHA and EPA in humans, one of them is the consumption of fish flesh or oil, another one is the enrichment of usual foods with DHA and EPA using fish oil or commercial nanoparticles concentrated in DHA and EPA. These methodologies are generally expensive, and cannot be adopted by many countries for their low income households. The present investigation follows a third way based on food enrichment of chicken meat by n3- fatty acids, feeding the birds with chia seeds, obtaining a meat enriched with DHA and EPA for consumers.
Methods. Chickens (14 by treatment), individually caged in floor (0.35 m2/animal), were fed for 52 days before sacrifice, with a diet enriched with 0; 2.5; 5 and 10% of chia seeds. Chia presents a level of α-linolenic acids of 50-60% of total fatty acids. The α-Linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid, is the biochemical precursor of synthesis of DHA and EPA by animal tissues. Fatty acids were determined by chromatography using a CPsil-88 column and Clarus 500 chromatograph. The GLM procedure has been used for the statistical analysis of the results.
Results. The results showed that a chicken’s diet enriched by chia seeds caused a significant and increasing content, compared to control, of α-linolenic acid, DHA and EPA by approximately 30%, 25% and 30 % more, in drumstick, thigh and breast cuts, respectively.
Conclusion. Feeding chickens with a diet enriched with chia is an affordable and practical way to enrich their meat in DHA and EPA, two fatty acids implicated in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases in consumers.
Keywords: chia, chickens, EPA, DHA.