It is now possible to incorporate fish oil into milk and other dairy-based beverages in concentrations high enough to promote heart health, and without effecting the product’s taste or lifespan, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science.
Not all people enjoy the taste of fish, even with its large amounts of heart-healthyomega-3 fatty acids. While some people avoid salmon and sardines, milk is the product that has become lost in a billion-dollar health industry.
Researchers at Virginia Tech conducted a study with 25 participants who analyzed one-ounce cups of standard two percent milk that was made up of 78 parts butter oil to 22 parts fish oil under institutionally approved study conditions.
The milk passed the sniff test. Susan E. Duncan, a professor of food science and technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, explained:
“We couldn’t find any aroma differences. We were concerned the fish oil would undergo a chemical process called oxidation, which would shorten the milk’s shelf life, or the milk would acquire a cardboard or paint flavor by reacting with the fish oil. It appears we have a product that is stable, with no chemical taste or smell issues.”
The researchers tested four different ratios of butter oil to fish oil in the creation of pasteurized, fatty acid-fortified drinks. The formula had no smell and sent to its drinker 432 milligrams of heart-healthy fatty acids per cup, almost the 500 milligram daily target for healthy people, according to many well known guidelines. The U.S. department of Agriculture recommends a 250 milligram consumption daily for adults.
Previous studies have established that omega-3 fatty acids are are advantageous in the following:
- preventing coronary disease
- reducing inflammation
- assisting infant brain development
- maintaining brain function
The American Heart Association suggests eating two servings of fatty fish each week, quoting research that has shown omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening heart arrhythmias, decrease triglyceride levels, slow development of atherosclerotic plaque, and moderately lower blood pressure.
Fish isn’t popular with everyone, leaving space for new foods and beverages fortified with omega-3s in a growing marketplace. Marketing analysts predict sales to reach over $3 billion in 2016.
“I think the dairy industry can look at our study and determine whether it is plausible to modify its products. I would like to help people who love milk, yogurt, and dairy, which have intrinsic nutritional value, address an additional need in their diets, especially if they don’t like to eat fish or can’t afford it. One of these dairy servings a day apparently is enough to sustain enough continuous omega-3 to benefit heart health.”
If a product of this type satisfies consumers, the authors believe the next step would be to follow groups of volunteers in an epidemiological study exploring effects of the food on health outcomes.