Bread and superbread

Can bread really make you brainier?
 
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  • Updated:15 Sep 2006
 

04.Omega-3s

The claims

  •  “Omega 3 DHA helps to promote healthy brain development and function … helps maintain heart health … helps to develop and maintain our eyesight.”
    - TIP TOP Up Omega 3

  • “… includes soy and linseed which contain omega 3 ALA to help maintain a healthy heart.”
    - TIP TOP 9 Grain

The facts

There are two types of omega-3 fats: those derived from plants (mainly ALA) and those from fish (mainly EPA and DHA).

There’s very good evidence that the omega-3 fats from fish can reduce your risk of heart disease. Expert opinions differ a little, but typical recommendations are 300 to 500 mg per day of EPA/DHA.

There’s also evidence EPA and DHA are important for the development of the central nervous system in babies, before and after they’re born, and suggesting that if women eat fish rich in EPA and DHA when they’re pregnant and breastfeeding, it helps the baby’s development.

Other studies suggest you might increase your child’s IQ by 0.8 to 1.8 points, but you’d need to increase your intake of DHA by 1 g (1000 mg) per day. To get that much DHA from TIP TOP Up Omega 3 bread you’d need to eat four whole loaves of it.

Omega-3s may also assist in the development of good eyesight in babies, but there’s no evidence that they help to maintain good eyesight for the rest of us.

There’s no evidence you get the same health benefits from ALA. This fat may help to prevent heart disease, but none of the other claimed benefits are proven and you need to eat even more of it (800 to 1100 mg per day).

The verdict

TIP TOP Up Omega 3 bread contains fish oil (using technology developed by the CSIRO) but other breads that make omega-3 claims only contain the omega-3 fats from plant sources.

Most people get plenty of ALA from cooking oils and spreads but on average we’re not getting enough EPA and DHA. The TIP TOP bread makes a real contribution, but a sandwich made with tinned salmon (40 g) and ordinary bread would give you about 600 mg of EPA and DHA, more than a day’s quota in one hit. And there’s little evidence that even that much will make your child brainier.

 

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