New Research on Omega-3s in Poultry

In *All, Nutrition & Health by Ag is America

Researchers at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences became the first to discover a potential hindrance to enriching eggs with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Conducted by Kevin Harvatine, associate professor of nutritional physiology in the Department of Animal Science, Robert Elkin, professor of avian nutritional biochemistry, along with undergraduate student Alexandra Kukorowski, the study is important to the egg industry as they develop the next generation of “designer eggs.”

Their study found that the process by which dietary linolenic acid is absorbed, metabolized, and deposited into egg yolk is affected by the presence of oleic acid. Linolenic acid is the omega-3 fatty acid that is vital for cardiovascular, cognitive, and immune system health and can be found in flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, nut oils, and leafy vegetables. Oleic acid is the principal fatty acid found in olive oil, which is the main fat source in the Mediterranean diet.

The researchers hope to create poultry products that are richer in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids but lower in omega-6 fatty acids. “Production of nutritionally enriched eggs and poultry meat will help consumers meet health goals and help egg and poultry producers to increase the value of their products,” Harvatine said.

Underpinning the study is their belief that it is possible for more people to reach omega-3 nutritional targets through food such as enriched poultry, meat, and eggs. They note several problems with omega-3 rich fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring or over-the-counter supplements – namely that they are not consumed with the same frequency as eggs or dairy due to taste, allergy, cost, and supply.

For more information on PSU’s study and findings, click here.

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