Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Another Article On Omega-3 Sources

More on Omega-3 fatty acids at The Wall Street Journal. This is a follow-up to this post from a week ago.

I'm doing a copy/paste of the complete article here in case it ever disappears from the WSJ site.


How Healthy Is an Egg
With Omega-3 Acids?

November 20, 2007; Page D3

For years, nutritionists have been telling us to eat fish, seeds and nuts as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Now, there's another way to get the heart-healthy fats: foods engineered to contain omega-3 acids, such as eggs, cereal, yogurt, orange juice, milk and even ice cream. Nutritionists say the products are a good idea but warn that quantities of omega-3 in them are too low to compensate for an otherwise poor diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human health but cannot be manufactured by the body. Scientific research has suggested that adequate intake of foods with omega-3 may help alleviate a variety of conditions, ranging from arthritis to Alzheimer's disease, and even may prevent strokes and some cancers. The strongest evidence for their benefit is in the cardiovascular realm, where they have been found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease.

Most people don't eat enough foods with omega-3 acids. The American Heart Association recommends everyone eat fish at least twice a week, and that people with heart disease eat even more. An array of products have been redesigned to boost natural levels of omega-3s, such as by feeding hens high levels of flax seeds, a natural source of omega-3s.

"Omega-3s are very important to health, and for most people, it can be very difficult to consume enough," says Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo, a Roseville, Calif., nutritionist and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Many of these food products can help accomplish that."

The catch is that the products can be pricey — omega-3 eggs can be two or three times as expensive as regular eggs. Also, the amount of healthy fatty acids in the non-fish foods is often small. Most of the products contain less than half a gram of omega-3 acids per serving. A four-ounce portion of salmon contains about two grams, according to the association.

Fish is rich in docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids, or DHA and EPA — the omega-3 fats most strongly linked to heart and other benefits. Many of the engineered products, instead, are heavy in alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, a fat found in canola oil. ALA can be converted by the body to the other two, but the best way to get DHA and EPA is to consume them directly.

Many products don't disclose the amount of DHA and EPA. For example, Kashi Go Lean Crunch! Honey Almond Flax cereal advertises that it contains 500 milligrams of omega-3s per one-cup serving but doesn't specify which acids. Kellogg Co.'s Kashi Co. unit declined to comment.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, in June asked the Food and Drug Administration to stop seven egg producers from making heart-healthy claims that it argues are misleading, in part because their products contain mostly ALA. For example, the group says it had an independent lab test Land O' Lakes Inc.'s omega-3 eggs and found 350 milligrams of the advertised omega-3 fats in the egg were DHA and EPA, with the rest from ALA. Land O' Lakes, of St. Paul, Minn., said its own lab tests back up its advertised claim. The FDA hasn't taken any public action on the complaint.

Many of the omega-3 eggs on the market are created by feeding hens a diet rich in flax seeds, which is a source of ALA, says Donald McNamara, executive director of the Egg Nutrition Center, an industry-funded educational and research group. People who don't eat much fish would be better off with eggs made from chickens fed algae, which are harder to find but contain higher levels of DHA and EPA, he adds. Omega-3 eggs contain the same amount of cholesterol — about 200 milligrams each — as regular eggs, which is two-thirds of the average daily maximum recommended by the American Heart Association.

Burnbrae Farms Ltd. of Ontario, Canada, sells a liquid egg product — with added fish oil — that was shown in a clinical study published last year in Food Research International to reduce blood levels of triglycerides, a blood fat linked to heart disease, compared with a control breakfast. The firm's technology has been licensed by Country Creek Farms LLC, a Rogers, Ark., food manufacturer and distributor that is test marketing a similar product under the brand name Heidi's Omega Egg.

• Email aches@wsj.com


Greg said...

Damn! I guess I picked the wrong lifetime to be a vegetarian!

Gavin said...

Greg, buy supplements! :)