Getting some extra omega-3 fatty acids in your diet will soon be easier with enriched eggs developed through a collaboration between the University of Adelaide and South Australian egg producer Solar Eggs.
“Omega-3 has been shown to be very important in human health, particularly in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, in brain development and for newborn babies,” said University of Adelaide researcher Dr John Carragher.
Omega-3 is found naturally in plants and fish, and is important in our diet “because it is a fatty acid that we can’t make,” explained Professor Robert Gibson, who has spent many years studying the health benefits of omega-3.
The research demonstrated that flaxseed oil contains high levels of a short chain omega-3 fatty acids (α-linolenic acid – ALA) and that chickens fed a diet containing flaxseed oil produced long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid enriched eggs.
“We know that hens are very good at converting the short chain omega-3 into the healthier long-chain omega-3, but the feed needs to have the omega-3 at the right level,” said Solar Eggs Managing Director Jonathan Attard.
Eggs from the hens on the flaxseed oil diet contained three times as much long-chain omega-3 fatty acids than standard eggs. The eggs taste the same, have the same shelf life as regular eggs and the omega-3s are bioavailable as they can be detected in the blood of people who have consumed two eggs.
“Eggs turned out to be an effective way of delivering an important nutrient that we know is essential for our health. By including this plant oil in the diet of chickens, we can get healthier eggs that are enriched in long chain omega-3 fatty acids, simply because chickens are such efficient converters,” said Professor Gibson.
The omega-3 eggs have passed sensory analysis tests undertaken with Solar Eggs staff and customers, as well as members of the public. New product packaging has been designed and printed in preparation for the start of commercial production in mid-2018. The trials of test product with customers have identified significant interest and demand for the new omega-3 eggs when they are available.
This project was awarded $150,000 in Round 1 of the Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Advanced Food Manufacturing Grant Program (2015).