Diet rich in Omega-3 chicken could cut heart disease

Eating meat and eggs from chickens fed an algae-based Omega 3 nutrient could cut risk of brain and heart disease, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has claimed. 

Dublin-based scientists studied diets of 161 people eating at least three portions of chicken and eggs per week that came from birds fed an Omega 3-boosting nutrient, made by Northern Ireland-based Devenish. 

The six-month trial found increased levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in blood samples taken from the study’s participants. 

This means people had a higher score in the ‘Omega-3 Index’ which measure levels of fatty acids in red blood cells. A high score in this index means people are less likely to suffer from heart attacks, stroke, dementia or depression.

An Omega-3 Index score of less than 4% suggests people are at greater risk of heart and brain disease.

After the world-first clinical trial, Devenish confirmed it was working on more ingredients, such as the OmegaPro product used in the trial, to help meat producers bulk up the health properties of their fare.

Dr Heather Hayes, director of food innovation at Devenish, said: “This science has demonstrated the importance of food nutrients to promote good health and prevent ill health.

“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.”

Hayes said taste panels showed there was no noticeable difference in taste between chicken that had and had not been enriched with Omega 3.

The business has worked with meat processor Moy Park and Waitrose to naturally enrich food with Omega 3 for a number of years.

Owen Brennan, executive chairman at Devenish, added farmers needed to think about how they could help make food healthier for shoppers too.

“The farmer has a key role to play in delivering sustainable and nutritious food with a health claim. Devenish is working hard to increase the opportunity for consumers to benefit from this nutrient-rich food, as less than 20% of the world’s population is eating enough Omega 3.”

Professor Chris Elliott of Queens University Belfast, said the cost of treating cardiovascular-related illnesses in the UK costs the NHS £10bn per year.

“Having access to sustainably produced nutrient-rich food, with a scientifically proven health claim, offers huge potential to turn this around globally.”

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