Enriching eggs and chicken with omega-3 nutrients could potentially have "substantial" health benefits, an Irish academic has said.
Professor Alice Stanton of The Royal College of Surgeons revealed results from a small six-month clinical trial.
Chicken meat and eggs used in the study came from birds offered a sustainable and algae-based source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).
Professor Stanton said greater consumption of oily fish has long been linked to a reduced incidence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer and improved brain health, vision, muscle and joint health.
She added: "International guidelines recommend eating oily fish at least once per week, however, many people do not eat fish at all and less than 20% of the world’s population have optimal omega-3 PUFA levels.
"Therefore, in this project we studied the recently developed alternatives to oily fish or supplementation, namely chicken meat and eggs, naturally enriched with sustainable algae-based omega-3 PUFA.
"Omega-3 enriched chicken and eggs offer consumers an attractive alternative to eating oily fish or to the lifelong taking of supplements, with the potential for substantial health benefits,"
The clinical trial was delivered on behalf of Belfast-headquartered farming and food company Devenish.
161 participants on the clinical trial ate at least 3 portions of omega-3 chicken, omega-3 eggs, a combination of both or a control chicken diet each week, for 6 months, in a randomised double blind controlled study #AHA17 @AHAMeetings @RCSI_Irl @ucddublin— Devenish (@DevenishNutri) November 15, 2017
The 161 subjects consumed at least three portions of chicken and eggs per week which had been naturally enriched with omega-3.
Professor Chris Elliott, founder of the Institute for Global Food Security & pro vice chancellor, Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Sciences, Queens University Belfast, said the cost to the health service of treating cardiovascular related illness in the UK is £10 billion a year.
"Having access to sustainably-produced nutrient-rich food, with a scientifically proven health claim, offers huge potential to turn this around globally."
Dr Heather Hayes, director of food innovation with Devenish, said offering birds a natural and sustainable source of omega-3 PUFA was good for the bird and good for the consumer.
"Taste panel studies have shown that the omega-3 enriched chicken meat tastes as good, if not better than conventional chicken."