Regular consumption of meat and eggs from chickens fed an algae-based source of Omega 3 may make people healthier, according to a trial by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
During a six-month trial, researchers studied 161 people eating at least three portions of chicken and eggs per week that had been naturally enriched with a feed nutrient made by Northern Ireland-based Devenish.
Based in Belfast, the business makes nutrient solutions for livestock producers. It has worked with meat processor Moy Park and UK supermarket Waitrose to naturally enrich food with Omega 3 in the past.
‘Improved brain health’
The fatty acids fed to the chickens were exactly the same as those found in oily fishes, consumption of which is good for human health, according to many health experts.
Results showed an increase in Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in blood samples taken from the study’s participants.
An increase in what is called the ‘Omega-3 Index’, which measure levels of fatty acids in red blood cells, means people are likely to stay healthy for longer. Conversely, an Omega-3 Index score of less than 4% indicates a heightened risk of heart and brain disease.
More products in the pipeline
The Royal College of Surgeons’ findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions Conference in California, US, this week.
“Greater consumption of oily fish has long been linked to a reduced incidence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer and improved brain health, vision, muscle and joint health,” said Professor Alice Stanton.
“International guidelines recommend eating oily fish at least once per week. However, many people do not eat fish at all and less than 20% of the world’s population have optimal Omega 3 PUFA [polyunsaturated fat] levels.”
Northern-Ireland based Devenish, the company which made the natural nutrient, said it planned to introduce more functional ingredients in the future.
“This science has demonstrated the importance of food nutrients to promote good health and prevent ill health,” said Dr Heather Hayes, director of food innovation at Devenish.
“We are also focusing our research efforts on producing sustainable and nutrient-rich pork, beef and milk, with scientifically proven health claims. Omega 3 is just one nutrient that we are interested in – we are working on others too.”
Devenish is strongly rooted to Ireland and the UK, but also has manufacturing sites in the US, Turkey and Uganda. With sales offices in the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Mexico, the Philippines, Dominican Republic and India, the business sells its products to 35 countries.