This study aimed to determine the effect of reducing the dietary linoleic acid (LA) intake from ~5% to <2.5% energy (%E) on n-3 long chain PUFA (LCPUFA) status in humans.

Thirty-six participants followed a <2.5%E LA diet for 4 weeks. Nutrient intakes were estimated from diet diaries and blood samples were collected for assessment of fatty acid composition in plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids.

LA intakes were reduced from 4.6%E to 2%E during the low LA intervention (P<0.001) while n-3 LCPUFA intakes were unchanged. LA and total n-6 PUFA content of plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids were significantly reduced after the low LA diet phase (P<0.001).

The n-3 LCPUFA content of plasma phospholipids was significantly increased after the low LA diet compared to baseline (6.22% vs. 5.53%, P<0.001).

These data demonstrate that reducing LA intake for 4 weeks increases n-3 LCPUFA status in humans in the absence of increased n-3 LCPUFA intake.