Development of EPA- and DHA-fortified beverages for use in clinical studies

Abigail Sommer
Graduate (PhD)
Yael Vodovotz
Food Science and Technology

Research shows that fish and its component fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) provide health benefits including reduction in the risk of cardiac death and lower inflammation. Yet, according to a study in 2016, around 85% of the US population is not consuming the recommended amount of fish due to high cost, possibly due to dietary restrictions such as vegetarianism/veganism, concerns about high levels of mercury, general dislike, and other factors. Additionally, to meet recommendations fish and fish oil production present sustainability challenges. EPA and DHA can be produced from algae and genetically engineered yeast. In this project a fortified beverage using yeast- and algae-based EPA and DHA will be made using nanoemulsion technology to increase their activity in counteracting chronic disease and increase access to general consumers. It is hypothesized that incorporating yeast and algae oils into non-dairy milks will provide a vehicle for EPA and DHA that is stable and more sustainable than fish oil. Non-dairy milks including almond, oat, and soy milks were chosen as the vehicle for the oil due to their increasing popularity and previous history of fortification. Non-dairy milks will be prepared in house using standard methods and ingredients. EPA and DHA will be incorporated using spontaneous emulsification. The fatty acids will be protected from oxidation using an antioxidant and chelator system, non-ionic surfactants, and diluent oil. The physical properties and oxidative stability of these beverages will be monitored over time to observe any changes and ensure shelf stability. Future work will include sensory studies and a Phase I clinical study to assess bioavailability, safety, and compliance.