The Good News About Omega-3-Fortified Foods

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Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Connect with her via Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website, Leamy.com.

I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years, which means I’m used to the rap that we reporters cover only negative news. So I was pleased–on several levels–when we tested foods fortified with omega-3s for a segment on The Dr. Oz Show and found that they all met or exceeded the amounts promised on the labels. We tested different brands of milk, eggs, and peanut butter, and they all passed!

That makes me think that the explosions of other omega-3-fortified foods on the market are also probably legitimate. Industry groups say it’s now a $13-billion-a-year industry. The key was when food scientists learned how to isolate EPA and DHA without a fishy flavor! Now, I kid you not, they are adding omega-3s to foods as unexpected as steak, cake, soda, and pet food!

These foods often cost a bit more than the plain counterparts, but now we know the added cost is valid. Studies show omega 3s–especially DHA and EPA–can improve heart health, take the edge off arthritis pain, maybe even help with depression and ADHD. While I’m wallowing in the good news, let me count the ways these fortified foods could be helpful:

  • For kids. My daughter will eat salmon, but only now and then. So I tried three different kinds of fish oil gummies and she gagged at the underlying fish taste each and every time. On the other hand, she consumes milk, peanut butter, and bread like a champ, so why not give her omega-3-fortified versions?
  • For pill-phobes. I have a nearly 50-year-old friend who cannot swallow pills. He crushes needed medications and takes them in juice, but he can’t bring himself to do the same for supplements, so he doesn’t take any. I’m going to tell him about omega-3-fortified foods.
  • For vegetarians. Salmon, sardines, and other oily fishes are still, by far, the best source of DHA and EPA. But if you don’t eat fish, that doesn’t help you. Now vegetarians can experiment with fortified foods as a way of getting their omega-3s. Just know that our lab results showed the peanut butter we tested contained fish oil, which could bother the strictest vegetarians.

So there you have it, a reporter gushing with positive news about healthy products. Can you add to the list? What groups can you think of that might benefit from omega-3 fortified foods? What other nutrients would you like to see food manufacturers add to their offerings? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.