The fatty-acid content of eggs is easily and significantly affected by the fatty-acid profile of the hen's feed. The omega-3 fatty-acid content of eggs can be increased by feeding hens a source of omega-3 fatty acids. In some countries, fish meal is used as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but this can result in eggs with a fishy odour and taste. Marine algae are another source of omega-3 fatty acid and result in higher concentrations of eicosapentanoic acid and docosahexanoic acid (DHA) in egg yolks. Flaxseed oil is also used as a source of omega-3 fatty acids and results in increased levels of a-linolenic acid in egg yolks. The relative proportion of DHA to a-linolenic acid can be controlled by feeding a mixture of flaxseed oil and marine algae. It is possible to attain levels as high as 200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per large egg.
Although omega-3 fatty-acid levels in eggs are well below levels found in fishes such as salmon and tuna, eggs can still be an important source of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. For people who cannot eat fish, eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids can be an important way of including these beneficial fatty acids in the diet.
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