~If you are interested in Omega-3 fatty
acids in your diet, we have more Omega-3 food science information
in our Omega-3 round-up
In traditional human diets eggs were a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Traditionally, hens were allowed to range free and peck on grasses, plants, and bugs in the soil. When hens had an adequate level of bugs and Omega-3 rich forage in their diets, they produced eggs with Omega-3 fatty acids as well.
Most hens today live in hen houses to protect them from predators or in cages of commercial egg producers. Hens with these industrial lifestyles will not produce eggs with notable levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. An egg industry flier shows us that a commercial egg will have only about 40 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids per egg.
But the eggs you find in the supermarket labeled “Omega-3 enriched” (or something along those lines) is a new type of egg. Hens producing these eggs live in the commercial operation but they receive flaxseed (or occasionally a fish-based supplement) as part of their daily ration. Hens typically receive a diet of about 10% flaxseed.
An egg from a hen on such a diet will typically contain over 200 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids, including about 75 milligrams of DHA. The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids will be about 2 to 1 – approaching the dietary ideal of 1 to 1. Commercial eggs have a ratio of about 20 to 1.
It’s the DHA
So why pay for the Omega-3 eggs? Why not just buy a bag of flaxseed (a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids), grind them in your coffee grinder, and sprinkle them on your breakfast cereal?
Do buy the flaxseed and sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal. Flaxseed is a depression buster food.
However, have an Omega-3 or free range egg on the side. Flaxseed contains the Omega-3 ALA while the eggs contain the Omega-3 DHA. DHA is critical in depression and probably most critical in depression and pregnancy and postpartum. As babies develop in utero, their growing brains require DHA. As they breastfeed, they take in still more. Moms in particular need this DHA in their diets.
Hens Convert ALA to DHA efficiently, humans don’t
The problem with eating a bag of flaxseed is that your blood levels of DHA will not likely increase (at least not very much). Humans do not convert ALA to DHA well, so the flaxseed in itself is not the path to DHA.
But hens do convert the ALA to DHA and deposits it in her egg for your benefit.
Eat the ground flaxseed on the cereal and eat the Omega-3 (or free range egg) for maximum benefit.
Read more about Omega-3 fatty acids in grass fed beef and dairy.