Adam Metherel,

Nutritional Sciences
University of Toronto

The role of plant-based diets on omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism

Canada's Food Guide (CFG) recommends choosing 'protein foods that come from plants more often'. However, the most abundant sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are non-plant options such as fish, seafood and fish oil supplements. Thus, this recommendation has the potential to reduce EPA and DHA intakes and contradicts the CFG recommendation to 'choose foods with healthy fats instead of saturated fats'.  With the rise in plant-based food choices and the long-held belief that mammals are poor at synthesizing our own DHA from the nutritionally essential omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), it is important to investigate the role that plant-based diets may have on n-3 PUFA metabolism. As a result, this session will focus on pre-clinical models to assess the potential roles for the type of dietary protein (plant vs. meat) and the type of dietary n-3 PUFA (plant vs. fish) on EPA and DHA levels, synthesis and turnover, and discuss the metabolic, health and environmental implications. 

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Dr. Adam Metherel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. Following completion of his PhD with Dr. Ken Stark at the University of Waterloo, he trained as a postdoctoral fellow with Certo Labs Inc. and then Dr. Richard Bazinet at U of T. Dr. Metherel is currently developing new models for determining synthesis rates of DHA and other omega-3 PUFA from dietary precursors in rodents and humans, while simultaneously using these models to identify the metabolic mechanisms driving the known sex differences in omega-3, and particularly DHA status.