The oils, in their natural form, originate from cold water fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel. However, people also may consume food fortified with OmegaPure™ oil refined from menhaden fish by Omega Protein, Houston.
Its ships catch the oily, herring-like menhaden fish in the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The oils achieved FDA GRAS status in 1997 specifically with the purpose to supply omega-3 fatty acids to functional foods. The oils are refined and fully deodorized.
“EPA and DHA are two essential fatty acids that regulate all body functions,” says Jane Crowther, senior director of technology, refined oil, for Omega Protein. The body can produce them, but in a slow and inefficient manner. This is dependent on age, health and diet. Nutritionists say that an individual needs 650mg of these long-chain omega-3 fatty acids per day, but many people do not get that amount. OmegaPure contains 20-26% of these polyunsaturated long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. Certain foods can be fortified with the menhaden oil at levels not to exceed 3g daily per person.
Over the years, thousands of studies have linked omega-3 consumption with heart health. The latest studies reinforce this link, including an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which concluded that women in the Nurses' Health Study of 98,462 women had a 33% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease if they consumed fish. Additionally, there was a major drop in their risk of sudden death. Another article, in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at omega-3 fatty acid blood levels in 22,000 middle-aged male physicians who participated in the Physicians' Health Study. There was a relationship between higher blood levels of omega-3s and a lower likelihood of sudden death from coronary disease.
OmegaPure menhaden oil is FDA-approved for a long list of food products including salad dressings, pasta sauces, breads and other baked goods, egg products, milk-based beverages, fruit drinks, and sports or nutrition bars.
Heart-Healthy DressingsThe staff of Custom Blends, Inc., Brockton, Mass., gets more than a dozen calls daily complimenting them on the taste and quality of their all-natural Cindy's Kitchen Salad Dressings, according to Ed Byers, R&D.
Product developers should protect the fish oil against heat, by adding it to their products toward the end of processing. The oil needs to be protected from light with shaded or opaque packaging, and from oxidation with a nitrogen flush and refrigeration during storage. Contact with metals can cause off-flavors, so nutritional ingredients should be encapsulated. The oil has a shelf-life of one year frozen, and six to nine months refrigerated.