Changes in fatty acids during storage of artisanal‐processed freshwater sardines (Rastrineobola argentea)

Davis Chaula*, Charlotte Jacobsen, Henry S. Laswai, Bernard Elias Chove, Anders Dalsgaard, Robinson Mdegela, Grethe Hyldig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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For ages, indigenous small fish species have been important in food and nutritional security of poor communities in low income countries. Freshwater fish, in particular fatty fish species are attracting a great attention because they are good sources of health promoting long chain omega-3 fatty acids. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6n-3), Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, C22:5n-3) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5n-3) are the main omega-3 PUFAs known to confer health benefits in humans if consumed in required amounts. While nutritionally valued, omega-3 PUFAs in fish are susceptible to oxidative damage during processing, transportation and subsequent storage. Lake Victoria sardines (Rastrineobola argentea), are rich source of chemically unstable omega-3 fatty acids DHA, DPA and EPA. Traditionally, sardines are preserved by sun drying, deep frying and smoking. Sardine products are transported, stored and marketed at ambient temperatures. Generally, uncontrolled and higher temperatures are known to increase vulnerability of polyunsaturated fatty acids to oxidation which in turn results into loss of nutritional and sensory qualities. This study investigated changes of fat acids in sun dried, deep fried and smoked sardines during storage. Lipolysis and the progressive hydroperoxides formation were monitored by free fatty acids (FFAs) and peroxide value (PV) respectively. None volatile secondary products of lipid oxidation were measured by thiobabituric acid reactive substances (TBARS). Fatty acids were analyzed by gas chromatography with a flameionization detector (GC-FID). Deep fried sardines maintained the lowest and apparently stable PV, TBARS and FFAs. Proportions of saturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids decreased with time while that of monounsaturated fatty acids increased. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA, DPA and DHA decreased with increase in storage time. In 21 days of storage, DHA was oxidized beyond detectable levels in all sardine products. Gradual increase in FFAs in sun dried sardines was suggestive of lipid hydrolysis induced by enzymes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Science and Nutrition
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)3040-3047
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Fatty acid profile
  • Lake Victoria
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Rastrineobola argentea


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