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Healthy omega-3 burger available soon

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
hamburger, healthy diet, omega-3, flavor, GreatO Premium Ground Beef

Do you suffer from guilt pangs when you pull up to a McDonald’s and order a Big Mac? For many, the decision comes down to indulging in a tasty treat or sticking to a heart-healthy diet. It now appears that you can have your burger and eat omega-3 too. NBO3 Technologies LLC (Manhattan, Kansas) is now offering its GreatO Premium Ground Beef at select retailers in Buffalo, NY; sales will expand to retailers and restaurants throughout the nation later this year.

Jim Drouillard, professor of animal sciences and industry, developed a technique that enriches ground beef with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce heart disease, cholesterol, and high blood pressure, by feeding cattle a balanced diet. NBO3 notes that their proprietary feeding protocol is designed to deliver naturally high dietary Omega-3 fatty acids, which result in beef that is high in Omega-3s. The company explains that the healthier ration means cattle perform better in the feedlot at a much younger age. It claims that their ration stimulates healthy rumen (first portion of a steer’s stomach), minimizes gut bacteria and creates healthier animals. As a result, the cattle grow faster, perform more efficiently, and spend little-to-no time in the sick pen, requiring; thus, they require little to no antibiotics (therapeutic or sub-therapeutic) compared to commodity beef. Studies have found that dairy and beef cattle with an enriched diet of flaxseed and other omega-3 rich grains have fewer respiratory diseases. The cattle also have higher fertility rates, which helps offset infertility among dairy cattle.

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Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish and plant oils. The US currently does not have a recommended daily intake of omega-3s; however, healthcare professionals recommend between 1,200-1,600 milligrams daily, depending on an individual’s age and health. Drouillard explained that a quarter-pound hamburger made of the enriched ground beef has 200 milligrams of omega-3s and tastes the same as regular ground beef. This makes the ground beef an alternative for those who want to add or increase their omega-3 fatty acids intake but do not want fish or supplements to do so. He explained, “As a society, Americans’ consumption of fish, especially fish that contributes to these omega-3 fats, is quite low compared to other proteins. Reasons for this include cost, access to fish and personal preference. Americans do, however, like hamburgers. So if we can give people a hamburger that is rich in omega-3s, it’s an alternative form of a product that they already eat and does not require a lifestyle change, which is difficult to make.” He notes that substituting omega-3 fatty acids for saturated fats does not change the ground beef’s flavor. Taste tests found that testers were unable to differentiate between flavor profiles of the omega-3 rich beef and non-omega-3 beef, even though the fats are quite different.

Drouillard explained that the technology to enrich ground beef with omega-3s is a spinoff of flaxseed research that he began in 1998. Drouillard and his students studied flax for several of its omega-3 fatty acids that may suppress inflammation and reduce diabetes in cattle. Research showed that omega-3 levels dramatically increased in the cattle as more flaxseed was introduced into their diet. However, keeping the omega-3s from becoming saturated fats in cattle’s digestive system is a challenge. Microorganisms in the rumen (the largest chamber in the cow’s stomach) modify most of the ingested fats and turn them into saturated fats. This causes ground beef to have low levels of omega-3s. Christian Alvarado Gilis, a doctoral candidate in animal sciences and industry, is researching how to improve omega-3 levels in cattle diets to further enhance the fat profile of beef.

The healthier ground beef is not the only product developed by LL3 Technologies. It is part of the company’s line of omega-3 enriched foods, which includes pork, chicken, cheese, milk, butter, and ice cream. GreatO Premium Ground Beef will be the first ground beef to carry the US Food and Drug Administration’s seal of approval for containing omega-3 fatty acids.

Reference: NBO3 Technologies LLC