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(HealthDay News) - Oil from genetically modified soybeans boosts levels of an important omega-3 fatty acid in the body, which may reduce the risk of heart attacks, U.S. researchers say.
They created soybeans that produce oils rich in stearidonic acid (SDA), which is converted by the body into an omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
"We know that giving pure EPA to people reduces their risk for heart disease. Presumably, if you gave this special soybean oil to people, you'd do the same thing -- reduce heart attacks," study author William Harris, a professor of medicine at Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota and chief of cardiovascular health research at Sanford Research/USD, said in a news release.
They gave the SDA-enriched oil from the genetically modified soybeans to volunteers and found that their red blood cell levels of EPA increased 17.7 percent.
"That means the SDA in the oil was converted to EPA in the body," Harris said.
The study, to be presented Monday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., was funded by Monsanto Co. and Solae LLC.
"This oil could make a major contribution to our national omega-3 intake," Harris said. "The supply could be virtually endless and it would provide omega-3s without putting additional pressure on fish stocks. What's more, it will be free of contamination from mercury, PCBs or dioxins, the harmful things that can get into some types of fish."
MedlinePlus has more about omega-3 fatty acids.