November 25, 2004 (STAR) By Rocel C. Felix - Egg as a health food? Yes, it has been for years in developed economies like the United States and the European Union. Soon, similar health products made from eggs will be available to most Filipino consumers.

Two Bulacan-based egg producers, Great Wall Poultry and Farm (GWPF) and Bounty Farms, are engaged in the production of Omega-3 and organic selenium-fortified eggs, respectively.

Barry Zang, president of Asia Food Processing and Management Inc. whose unit GWPF introduced into the local market its lower cholesterol content Omega-egg, said there is a big market for its product.

Although its farm’s current production is limited to only 25,000 eggs daily and distributed solely to Uniwide supermarket chains, plans are afoot to increase production next year to 100,000 eggs daily. It will soon be supplying another major retailer – SM Supermarkets in Metro Manila, publicly-listed restaurant chain Pancake House and the NE Supermarket in Nueva Ecija.

Zang noted the economic gains in producing Omega-3 enriched eggs which offer a taste and quality similar to regular eggs. He said its enhanced nutrient contents, appeals to the growing number of fitness-conscious consumers.

He said that GWPF’s layers are fed daily with imported feeds packed with Omega-3, resulting in eggs that contain lower cholesterol.

Omega-3 fortified eggs contain essential Omega-3 fatty acids – alpha-linolenic (ALA), eiconsapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) which are effective in preventing coronary heart disease while also reducing the risk of arrythymias, and decreasing triglyceride levels, tempering the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lowering blood pressure.

Zang added that DHA is considered to be good for brain development especially for growing children and helps strengthen immune functions.

Also, Omega-3 enriched egg is a cheap substitute for other more expensive Omega-3 rich foods such as fish, shellfish and seafood.

Bounty Farms, on the other hand, has created a niche market for its organic selenium-enriched eggs.

Kenneth Cheng, president of Bounty Farms said its organic-selenium eggs are distributed in S & R supermarkets.

"Our eggs are about 50 percent more expensive than regular eggs but our customers, the A and B markets see the value of our product," said Cheng.

Inorganic selenium is a trace mineral required by the human body and is essential in ensuring good health

Bountry Farms’ 200,000 layers are fed regularly with a specially-developed feed imported from the US-based Alltech Biology. The feed increases the level of organic selenium in broilers and layers, and consequently, the eggs. This feed was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

High organic-selenium content in food is known to be effective in fighting cancer; it is also an excellent anti-oxidant which works more effectively in combination with other anti-oxidants like vitamin E and strengthens the immune sytem.

It is also essential for male fertility as it is required for testosterone biosynthesis and for the normal development of spermatozoa.

Results of recent scientific studies also show that organic selenium lowers the risk of heart disease by preventing blood platelets from sticking together, thus reducing the incidence of heart attack and stroke.

Moreover, it plays a critical role in manufacturing a brain chemical known as a neurotransmitter. A low level of selenium was linked with an increased risk of dementia and senility and other cognitive degeneration afflictions like Parkinsons and Alzheimers diseases.

Another interesting result of a study made by Margaret Rayman of the Center for Nutrition and Food Safety at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, shows that low selenium was linked to increased levels of depression, anxiety, confusion and hostility. On the other hand, high dietary selenium content appeared to improve a person’s mood.

Today, these Omega-3 and selenium-fortified eggs are recommended for daily consumption to improve one’s health.

Good news indeed for the country’s local egg industry which is trying to convince consumers that eating one egg a day won’t ruin their health.

Currently, Filipinos only consume 1-1/2 eggs a week, which translates to five pieces a month or 66 a year. In comparison, Asian neighbors consume an average of 365 pieces a year in Korea; 355 eggs a year in Taiwan; 324 eggs a year in Malaysia; 300 eggs a year in China; and 148 eggs a year in Thailand. Americans eat two eggs daily or 730 a year.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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