A brief review of physiological roles, plant resources, synthesis, purification and oxidative stability of Alpha-linolenic Acid
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) comprising of 18 carbon atoms and three double bonds. Because the first double bond counted from the methyl terminus, is at position three, ALA belongs to the so-called n-3 group. Derived mainly from natural plants such as Linum usitatissimum and Perilla frutescens, it is an essential fatty acid for the human body. ALA is essential for the regulation of blood lipid, blood pressure and blood sugar, for the prevention of diseases and for the protection of retina and brain. It is the precursor of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are crucial for human health. This review summarizes the current knowledge on physiological roles, plant resources, and synthesis, purification and oxidative stability of ALA, providing the scientific basis for its sustainable development and utilization towards human health.