Occasionally I'm asked why omega-3 eggs sometimes taste or smell a little fishy. A little background first. Omega-3 eggs are produced by feeding hens a diet enriched with flaxseed. Flaxseed contains omega-3 fatty acids, and these fats are transferred to the eggs the hens lay. Omega-3 fat is also found in fish. In fact, there is a brand of omega-3 eggs on the market in Ontario laid by hens whose diet includes flaxseed and fish oil. It makes sense that these eggs might smell a little fishy since the omega-3 in them comes from both fish oil and flaxseed. Why eggs from hens fed flaxseed as the source of omega-3 would have a fishy smell or taste is a good question! Here's the interesting thing. Omega-3 fat - no matter whether in flaxseed or fish - can have a fishy aroma and flavour. It's simply a characteristic of the omega-3 fat. Certainly not everyone who eats omega-3 eggs notices anything fishy about them (I don't!), but if you have a keen sense of smell or taste, you just might. Since we're talking about omega-3 eggs, here are a few other questions I often get asked.......
- What is omega-3 and what's the big deal about it? Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, one of the essential fats our body needs to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots and heart disease. Omega-3 fat can't be made by our bodies so we need to get it from the food we eat.
- Is the amount of omega-3 in the eggs worth the extra money these eggs cost? Omega-3 eggs are more expensive than classic eggs - often about a dollar more. If you're not eating other sources of omega-3 (like fish) or taking an omega-3 supplement, eggs are an economical way to get at least some of the omega-3 your body needs. The omega-3 is in the yolk, so be sure to eat the whole egg.
- How much omega-3 is in an omega-3 enriched egg? How much do I need? There is about 0.4 g omega-3 fat in an omega-3 egg. That's about four times the amount found in a classic egg as the latest research shows there is 0.1 g omega-3 egg in a classic egg. Two omega-3 eggs provide 50 to 70% of your daily omega-3 needs. (According to Canada's Food Guide, one serving of Meat and Alternates is two eggs.)
- Are omega-3 eggs low in cholesterol? The amount of cholesterol as well as the total amount of fat in omega-3 eggs and classic eggs are very similar.
- Can't I just eat flaxseed myself to get omega-3? Yes, you could. About a tablespoon (15 mL) of ground flaxseed will give you the recommended amount of omega-3 your body needs for the day.
- What are other dietary sources of omega-3? The best sources of omega-3 fats are fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna. The form of omega-3 in these foods is EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); these forms are readily used by our bodies. Some plant foods also contain omega-3; these include walnuts, ground flaxseed, flax oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and soybeans. They contain omega-3 in the form of ALA (alpha linolenic acid). Our bodies are not able to use ALA as easily. We can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but this conversion is not very inefficient. Interestingly, hens are able to convert the AHA in flaxseed to DHA more readily. Their eggs have between 75 and 130 mg DHA, depending on the type of omega-3 egg. Want more information about omega-3? Try these resources: