Omega-3 eggs are produced by hens fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which transfers into their eggs. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids promotes overall good health and may help prevent cardiovascular disease. There is some controversy, however, over the effectiveness of these eggs, as they are still high in cholesterol, which may create more heart problems. They can be used in much the same way as any other egg, but they typically cost quite a bit more in stores.
How They Are Produced
Many farmers understand that the diet fed to hens has an impact on the nutritional content of their eggs. Hens that eat flax and similar plants high in omega-3 fatty acids lay eggs that have a higher content of those fatty acids within their yolks. This makes omega-3 eggs that have more nutritional value than regular eggs, though they are not necessarily entirely healthy.
Fatty Acid Contents
Omega-3 eggs have three to six times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as regular eggs. Yet, a serving of two such eggs still has less than half of the omega-3 fatty acids found in a 3 ounce (85 g) portion of salmon. For people who do not care for fish, or who choose not to eat it, omega-3 eggs offer an opportunity to get some fatty acids into their diet. Also, some people are allergic to fish and fish oils and cannot get omega-3 fatty acids into their bodies by ingesting these foods. Some liquid omega-3 egg products do contain fish oil to increase the amount of fatty acids in the product, which should be avoided by those with allergies.
Types of Fatty Acid
The type of omega-3 fatty acid found in many omega-3 eggs is Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), which is found in flax seeds and ends up in the egg yolks. Nuts and some oils such as canola, soybean and olive also contain ALA, while Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) is the type of omega-3 fatty acid found in fish. There is some evidence to indicate that EPA may be more advantageous than ALA, making the higher content of it in fish more beneficial than that of eggs.
Rise in Popularity
Omega-3 eggs have become a popular product and helped revive the egg industry after the American Heart Association (AMA) found that eggs were high in cholesterol. Since omega-3 eggs are designed to help lower cholesterol, it provided a healthier option for egg lovers. They are often quite a bit more expensive than regular eggs, however, which may cause some people to avoid them.
There is some debate over the health benefits of these eggs. The omega-3 within them is in the yolk, which is also the source of so much cholesterol within eggs. Even though they provide protein, a single egg has nearly an entire day's worth of cholesterol. While omega-3 eggs do offer some health benefits, they still have many of the same drawbacks as standard eggs. People on diets that restrict eggs or cholesterol should consult with a healthcare professional before altering their programs.