Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 17, 2001

Fish oil egg product helps reduce risk of heart disease, study finds

What do you get when you add heart-healthy fish oils to an egg product? A novel “functional food” that lowers the risk of heart disease and doesn’t taste fishy, new University of Guelph research has found.

The study conducted by nutritional sciences professor Bruce Holub and master’s student Emily Rose showed that a liquid scrambled egg product enriched with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (normally found in fish oils) lowered blood triglyceride levels by 32 per cent. Those reductions are comparable to the effects seen with certain synthetic drugs prescribed for patients at risk of heart disease, Holub said. The findings, which also showed no significant increase in cholesterol levels, were presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, an international group that involves academics, industry and government.

Holub and Rose did a randomized cross-over study of healthy men with normal to moderately elevated triglyceride levels. The men were divided into two groups, each consuming one of two breakfast meals, and were tracked for two 21-day periods. The breakfast meals were identically balanced for calories and nutrients, with the difference being that one meal contained the scrambled egg product. After a “wash out” period, the diets of the two groups were switched. Blood samples and data analysis showed that the egg breakfast lowered plasma triglycerides an average of 32 per cent, while no such significant effects were observed when the groups consumed another food for breakfast.

“This product is a very promising functional food,” said Holub, who is a scientific adviser for the University’s Human Nutraceutical Research Unit. Nutraceutical is one of the terms used to describe natural food ingredients that are known to fight or prevent disease. When they are incorporated into a food at certain levels, the food has a drug-like effect and becomes known as functional.

Holub said it is widely accepted that EPA and DHA have heart-protective effects, such as lowering blood triglycerides, reducing risks of death from heart attacks and reducing heart disease. But until now, the only source of these fatty acids has been fish or fish oil capsules, which can have an unpleasant taste or side effects. The ready-to-serve scrambled egg product used in the study has been available in stores for only a couple of months, and is the first prepared egg product to be so enriched with omega-3 fatty acids normally found in fish. One serving provides as much omega-3 as four fish oil capsules.

“Across Canada, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on synthetic drugs that lower triglyceride levels by 25 to 30 per cent,” Holub said. “This product appears to lower triglyceride levels just as much, but through consuming an all-natural food.”

Rose added: “It is truly amazing when a product can deliver these effects on health and still taste great.”

For more information, contact:
Prof. Bruce Holub,
Department of Human Biology & Nutritional Sciences
(519) 824-4120, Ext. 3743

For media questions, contact: Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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