Believe it or not – a healthy snag!

Healthy snags (Photo: YoGeek Mami)

Healthy snags (Photo: YoGeek Mami)

In a previous blog we wrote about omega-3 fatty acids, a group of three fats called ALA (found in plant oils), and the more important long-chain fatty acids EPA, and DHA (both commonly found in marine oils). And everyone seems to praise the omega-3 compounds, the only problem seems to be to get enough of the stuff. Fish and seafood are the obvious food choices to increase your omega-3 intake. But what about if your food preference doesn’t include marine products.

Don’t worry, you might soon be able to relax, that is if you live in Germany. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have come up with a new method of adding omega-3 fatty acids to sausages. If sausages are part of your favourite foods (I love sausages but am a little reprehensible because of their bad reputation), with the new invention you might soon be able to continue eating your favourite, but with the main nutritional benefit of fish. The range of foods with added omega-3 might grow to include also bread, pasta and pizza.

So why is this happening now and what is new?

In the past there has been a problem – the fishy smell of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids in their natural form as they occur in fresh fish or fish oil have no smell. However, if they come into contact with oxygen they oxidise producing two drawbacks. The quality of the original substance diminishes and a fishy smell is produced. If you don’t like fish you don’t really want your sausages or pasta to taste like fish. That would defeat the purpose, you could as well consume the fish. We are asked to eat 150-220 g of fish a week to get enough of the essential omega-3 fatty acids. However, even if the awareness of the importance of omega-3s is high, few people consume enough fish and seafood.

Products on the German market

Products on the German market

So the Fraunhofer researchers set out to protect the fatty acids from oxidation. They created a patented emulsion system combining the omega-3 fatty acids with a number of different antioxidants. That way they created a lot of hurdles for the oxygen to be able to react with the fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids remain stable, thus preventing any fishy smell developing. And they can be incorporated in a range of different products.

So now we have the healthy snag, if you live in Germany. The German food retailer Edeka has launched nine different popular sausage varieties onto the German market which, as well as containing sufficient amounts of EPA and DHA fatty acids, also carry less overall fat compared to regular sausages.

What about the rest of the world?

We might have to wait. There is no country like Germany in relation to variety of sausage types and the amount consumed. Germany is the biggest market for sausages in the European Union consuming 1.42 million tons or 30% of the total EU demand. Also there might soon be a shortage in availability of omega-3 fatty acids. Already maxed-out fish stocks are going to struggle to meet omega-3 oil demand forecast at an ongoing 7-8% annual growth by market analysts. Algal oil, which is a concentrated source of DHA, might be a future solution. It is currently mainly used for infant health accounting for only 3% of the total omega-3 market. The suppliers of algal oils are encouraging its use in other areas as an alternative to fish omega-3. One of the advantages promoted is the vegetarian origin.

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