Stearidonic acid (SDA) is an organic compound from the group of polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. It is found in varying amounts in certain algae, fungi and, less frequently, in other plants, but can also be detected in the cyanobacterium spirulina or in fish oil and animal tissues. SDA is very interesting for today’s nutrition because the human body can convert SDA into the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are particularly important for it. SDA is an intermediate product in the biosynthesis of EPA and DHA. Nowadays, more and more people are following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Since EPA and DHA are mainly found in fatty sea fish, which are also rarely consumed by the rest of the population in this country, new ways are sought.
Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids
Hemp, flax or chia seeds or oil contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, but the classic is certainly the domestic tree nut. The vegetable omega-3 fatty acids are mainly the so-called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid is the basic building block of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. It can be converted by the body into EPA and DHA in several steps; by lengthening the fatty acid chain by 2 C atoms and converting saturated into unsaturated compounds and by inserting double bonds. On the one hand, this requires sufficient enzyme activity, on the other hand, the body needs a whole range of certain micronutrients for this complex process. It is therefore much easier for the body to get DHA and EPA directly or to get stearidonic acid (SDA), from which it can produce these important omega-3 fatty acids much more easily.
Field stone seed contains a lot of stearidonic acid
The seeds of a rather inconspicuous plant called field saxifrage (Buglossoides arvensis) have recently come into focus because they are rich in stearidonic acid (SDA) and also contain other omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid). The field stone seed contains 18-20% SDA, which is the highest known level of naturally occurring SDA of any vegetable oil to date. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled human study found that oil from the seeds of the field stone seed is three to four times better converted to EPA than flaxseed oil.
Study on the oil of the field stone seed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26793308/
Study on an oil enriched with SDA: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23885702/