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Current research in nutritional medicine indicates that the omega-3 fatty acids are receiving more and more attention as essential components of the human diet (Adam et al. 1986; Simopoulos 1986). The observed low incidence of arteriosclerosis and chronic inflammatory heart disease in Greenland Eskimos has been attributed to their traditional ethnic diet, consisting in great part of marine foods rich in two omega-3 fatty acids: C22:6 and C20:5.

Dietary fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids are increasingly recommended for their antithrombic and hypolipidemic effects to persons consuming typical western diets (Phillipson et al. 1985). Additional benefits include improving immunologic function and fighting allergies (Leaf and Weber 1988). Omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable oils could provide health benefits without any concomitant intake of cholesterol (Hunter 1990).

Based on preliminary evaluations (Yaniv et al. 1991) we have chosen to investigate germplasm of Matthiola incana (Brassicaceae) with an average oil content of 20%-24% in the seeds and maximum levels of 65% omega-3-linolenic acid (omega3LA) of the total fatty acids in the oil (Ecker et al. 1992). This is one of the highest known content of omega3LA in a plant species (Table 1). A second important aspect of this vegetable oil is its quality as drying oil, due to the high content of omega3LA. Various Matthiola lines were tested and evaluated as a potential new-oil crop for dietary supplement and industrial uses.

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Matthiola incana: Source of Omega-3-Linolenic Acid
Matthiola incana: Source of Omega-3-Linolenic Acid

Current research in nutritional medicine indicates that the omega-3 fatty acids are receiving more and more attention as essential components of the human diet (Adam et al. 1986; Simopoulos 1986). The observed low incidence of arteriosclerosis and chronic inflammatory heart disease in Greenland Eskimos has been attributed to their traditional ethnic diet, consisting in great part of marine foods rich in two omega-3 fatty acids: C22:6 and C20:5.

Dietary fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids are increasingly recommended for their antithrombic and hypolipidemic effects to persons consuming typical western diets (Phillipson et al. 1985). Additional benefits include improving immunologic function and fighting allergies (Leaf and Weber 1988). Omega-3 fatty acids from vegetable oils could provide health benefits without any concomitant intake of cholesterol (Hunter 1990).

Based on preliminary evaluations (Yaniv et al. 1991) we have chosen to investigate germplasm of Matthiola incana (Brassicaceae) with an average oil content of 20%-24% in the seeds and maximum levels of 65% omega-3-linolenic acid (omega3LA) of the total fatty acids in the oil (Ecker et al. 1992). This is one of the highest known content of omega3LA in a plant species (Table 1). A second important aspect of this vegetable oil is its quality as drying oil, due to the high content of omega3LA. Various Matthiola lines were tested and evaluated as a potential new-oil crop for dietary supplement and industrial uses.

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