Use of tannins to improve fatty acids profile of meat and milk quality in ruminants: A review

Rodrigo Morales1*, and Emilio M. Ungerfeld2
This paper reviews how tannins, through their effects on rumen lipid metabolism, can affect the composition of ruminants’ meat and milk fat. Tannins are a heterogeneous group of plant secondary compounds known for both beneficial and detrimental effects on animals’ digestive physiology. Tannins supplementation of ruminants’ diets alters both in vivo and in vitro unsaturated fatty acids biohydrogenation and hence the profile of fatty acids outflowing the rumen, which can influence milk and meat content of beneficial fatty acids such as linolenic acid (c9,c12,c15-18:3), vaccenic acid (t11-18:1) and rumenic acid (c9,t11-18:2),among others. Published information indicates that tannins could inhibit biohydrogenation though affecting ruminal microorganisms. Some studies found increments in linolenic, rumenic and/or vaccenic acids in meat and milk fat using different sources of tannins; however, the effects of tannins supplementation on milk and meat fatty acid profile are not consistent, and there are contradictory results published in the literature. Effects of tannin supplementation on fatty acids biohydrogenation are affected by the chemical type of tannins, the complexity of their interactions with dietary components, and the potential microbial adaptation to tannins. In addition, the duration of the tannins-feeding period may also affect milk and meat fatty acid profile. Characterizing the effects of each specific tannic compound on different biohydrogenation steps and on the microbial species conducting them, as well as the interaction between specific tannin compounds and other dietary components can help to take greater advantage of tannins potential to contribute to improve human health through promoting beneficial fatty acids in ruminants products.
Keywords: Biohydrogenation, condensed tannins, conjugated linoleic acids, hydrolysable tannins, product quality.
1Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, INIA Remehue, Ruta 5 Norte km 8, P.O. Box 24-0, Osorno, Chile. *Corresponding author (rmorales@inia.cl).2Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, INIA Carillanca, P.O. Box 58-D, Temuco, Chile.