Omega 3 eggs aren’t cheap, but are they good value?

Just about everything you eat now seems to be fortified with the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. And of course as we have pointed out many times on this website the Omega 3 essential fatty acids are very good for your health, so what’s wrong with that?

Well of course as with all these things it’s important to dig a little deeper before you accept something on face value. So let’s dig a little deeper into Omega 3 eggs.

We should begin by saying that eggs are not normally devoid of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. In fact eggs should have plenty of Omega 3 fats in them. However the operative word there is “should”.

Unfortunately the average egg that you buy in the supermarket now has very little of the Omega 3 fats. There is a very specific reason for that, it’s modern farming practices.

You see the Omega 3 fats found in eggs used to come from grass. The chickens ate the grass and the Omega 3 went into their system and ended up in the eggs.

That’s exactly how you get the Omega 3 essential fatty acids in fish. Fish at the bottom of the food chain eat seagrass, which is also high in the Omega 3 fats. Therefore they take Omega 3 fatty acids into their system and their oil is correspondingly high in fatty acids.
The value of omega 3 fortified eggs
And those Omega 3 fats work their way up the food chain as bigger fish eat smaller fish.

In the past we used to get our eggs from chickens which free ranged. They used to have a wide range of food sources, including all sorts of insects, and grass.

Yes believe it or not chickens eat grass. In fact the authors of this website have their own chickens, and are constantly amazed at how much grass they eat.

But modern chickens are not allowed to free range, or if they are it is usually rare that there is grass available to eat. More commonly they are fed chicken pellets or grains or soy products. These are not high in the Omega 3 fats.

And since the fatty acids come from their diet if there are none in their diet they don’t get any in their system, and if there is none in their system there will be none in their eggs.

That would seem to be an argument for eating Omega 3 fortified eggs. Lets see.

Of course the first thing to note is that Omega 3 eggs are more expensive than regular eggs.

But surely if you’re getting your Omega 3′s in the eggs the extra cost is worthwhile? Not necessarily.

You see not all of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids are created equal. DHA and EPA are the most important of the Omega 3 fats for your health. These are the ones which are found in fish oil and which used to be found in chicken and eggs, before modern farming practices changed.

However there is another type of Omega 3 fat called ALA. ALA is a precursor to DHA and EPA, meaning that it is converted in your body to DHA and EPA. And there’s a problem with that.

The problem is not that it is converted, the problem is how well it’s converted. It is generally recognized that it takes a large amount of ALA to convert into a very small amount of DHA and EPA. Estimates are that as little as under 1 percent of ALA is converted into more useful DHA and EPA.

ALA is cheaper than DHA and EPA, and therefore that is the fatty acid most commonly found in Omega 3 fortified eggs. So in effect you’re getting very little of the Omega 3 fats, certainly not enough to justify the cost, in fact you’d be much better if you spent your money onĀ Omega 3 supplements which are filled with DHA and EPA, not ALA.

And the same applies to many other Omega 3 fortified foods, read the label and you’ll find that in almost all cases the Omega 3 fat in the food is ALA.

So why do they bother fortifying the eggs, or the other foods? It’s marketing silly, it’s all about selling more eggs.

It’s very difficult, though not impossible, to find eggs fortified with DHA and EPA, if you do then you’re getting much better value, though in our view it’s still much better value again to buy fish oil supplements and avoid paying a lot more for your eggs, or for any other Omega 3 fortified foods.

Best of all, get some chickens of your own, allow them to free range around the garden eating grass and bugs and you’ll have your own eggs high in Omega 3.

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