Omega-3 is the name given to polyunsaturated fatty acids. Hang on a minute, did you just say ‘fatty’? Yes, indeed! But there’s no need to panic. Fats are an important source of energy and provide the building blocks for our body’s cells. We have a variety of fats in our diet, all of which affect our health in different ways.
Omega-3 is among the unsaturated fats, known as the ‘healthy’ fats, as opposed to saturated fats, which are known as ‘unhealthy’ fats.
In other words, just like vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our bodies, but have to be absorbed though our food because our bodies cannot manufacture them themselves.
The key omega-3 fatty acids are:
- alfa-linolenic acid (ALA or LNA)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Our bodies convert alfa-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and then to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
However, the process of conversion to EPA and DHA is inefficient. For this reason we make sure that our chicken feed contains dried algae (which is rich in DHA) as well as linseed oil (rich in ALA). This guarantees that all three omega-3 fatty acids are present in high levels.
To make sure our bodies get enough omega-3 we can introduce a few foods to our diet that are rich in omega-3. Eggs and milk from animals fed on an omega-3-rich diet are also significant in this regard.