DHA and EPA are excellent forms of omega-3 fatty acids. While seafood contains the most concentration, we can also get these fatty acids from eggs, liver, brain and lean red meat. The amount of omega-3 from eggs depends on the size of the eggs. Omega-3 enriched eggs are available in many leading stores. Before selecting these eggs, you must know the type of omega-3 fats you want. DHA-docosahexaenoic acid has the maximum health benefits of all 3 omega-3 fatty acids. It provides benefits for the brain, heart, eyes etc. ALA-alpha-linolenic acid is found in many foods but it offers limited benefits.
Omega 3 eggs
A typical hen is fed ingredients like fish meal and soybean oil that contain ALA and DHA. This hen then lays eggs that contain 25mg of both these fatty acids. So a normal egg will contain 50mg of ALA and DHA in the yolk. If a carton of eggs in a store advertises them as containing ‘50mg of omega-3 fats’, then remember you are buying ordinary eggs and need not pay extra for them. Omega-3 from eggs is found exclusively in the egg yolk. So, consume the whole egg to get maximum health benefits.
Specialty eggs are got from hens that are fed flaxseed for ALA, fish oil for EPA and DHA or micro-algae for DHA. Hens fed flaxseed however will have a greater concentration of ALA 500-600mg and just 90-115mg of DHA. The quantity of omega-3 from eggs also depends on the size of the egg yolks. Pearl millet and chia seeds are also fed to hens. While chia results in better distribution of ALA in the yolk, both provide similar quantities of DHA.
To get higher concentration of DHA omega-3 from eggs, hens are given foods rich in fish oil and marine algae (150mg DHA/egg). EPA -20mg/yolk – also get deposited when hens are fed this diet. Fish oil however can leave a fishy after taste in cooked yolks. Marine algae-fed hens produce eggs that are very tasty and have a rich dark yellow color that is due to carotenoids from the algae.
Even in this, free range hens produce eggs that have greater quantities (9%) of omega-3 fats as against feedlot eggs (0.03%). Here is an example of the size of eggs and the quantity of EPA+DHA in the yolks.
- Medium – 18mg
- Large – 20mg
- Extra large – 24mg
- Jumbo – 25mg
Choose your Omega 3 eggs
Knowing your personal omega-3 requirements is a must when choosing eggs for their omega-3 content. E.g., pregnant women require 200mg of DHA and 75% of their daily requirement can be got from the right type of omega-3 enriched eggs. Omega-3 from eggs provides a simple, affordable source for most people – especially those who are vegetarians who eat only eggs and fish-haters.
A company called ‘Golden Circle Farms’ has an egg-white liquid. This has 50mg of DHA / ¼ cup.
A few negatives of Omega 3 eggs
Eggs contain saturated fats that clog arteries and increase blood cholesterol. In one study conducted by the ‘Journal of the American Dietetic Association’, 25 people were given 12-DHA enriched eggs for 12 weeks. These people all had high blood cholesterol. It was found that none of their cholesterol levels increased with an egg-rich diet therefore concluding that people need not fear that cholesterol levels will be greatly increased by consuming eggs.
Eggs do contain arachidonic acid (AA) – about 156mg in a large whole egg. The amount really depends on the type of foods that the hens are fed. This is why reading the labels before purchasing eggs is critical. Only then will you know the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 it contains. Instead of using these AA enriched eggs, you can substitute it for omega-3 – especially DHA – enriched eggs.
Omega-3 from eggs offers the many health benefits of this amazing nutrient. However, be careful when selecting the brand, for some contain only ALA. Make sure if you are buying eggs for their omega-3 content that they contain at least 100mg of DHA/ egg. Use egg recipes that require you to use the whole egg for the best benefits are got from the yolk. Some recipes refer to ‘omega-3 eggs’. This is the variety that contains a minimum of 100mg of DHA. While eggs do not provide as much omega-3 as fish, they are a useful alternative for those who dislike fish and ovo-vegetarians. Use omega-3 enriched eggs in your daily diet and enjoy a tasty and healthy meal.