Broiler meat, which is low in carbohydrates, rich in protein and low in cholesterol, can be enriched with certain nutrients to minimize the occurrence and ill effects of heart disease and diabetes. With the increasing global prevalence of heart disease and diabetes, meat production may hold the key to reducing the impact of both diseases and improving human health.

This trend of nutritionally enriched or “designer meat” is evolving in both the industry and consumer market. Feeding specific feed supplements to broilers to increase omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and other nutrients in the meat offers consumers an easy way to increase their intake of these useful nutrients without altering their diet.

Adding the following feed supplements to broiler diets provides heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and other dietary enrichments to broiler meat:

  • Flax seed. Flax seed is a good source for increasing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in poultry meat because of the high content of alpha-linolenic acid.
  • Fish oil. The polyunsaturated fatty acids including docosehexonic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) are present in fish oil.
  • Dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS). Including DDGS at above 20 percent in broiler diets increases total omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic and oleic acid) and decreases the saturated fatty acid level in the finished product. The recommended inclusion level of DDGS vary from country to country based on the quality of the raw material and processing technology.
  • Chromium. Chromium is provided to broilers in the form of chromium-enriched yeast. In human nutrition, chromium is used as a nutritional supplement recommended in impaired carbohydrate metabolism characterized by reduced glucose tolerance and impaired insulin action; for weight reduction; and in the prevention of the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels. Fortification of broiler diets with chromium decreases the concentration of serum total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • Vitamins. Dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E, carotenoids, herbal extracts and selenium are beneficial in preventing the detrimental effects of omega-3 fatty acid-enriched diets in broilers. Vitamin-E and selenium are key components of the antioxidant system, reducing lipid peroxidation. Supplementation of vitamin E in broiler diets improves the meat stability against oxidative deterioration. Vitamin E  is  the  primary  lipid-soluble  antioxidant  found  in  foods  and  human blood and tissues.

Diabetes mellitus is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Its global prevalence was about 8 percent in 2011, and it is predicted to rise to 10 percent by 2030. Asia and the Eastern Pacific region are particularly affected; in 2011, China was home to the largest number of adults with diabetes (90.0 million, or 9 percent of the population), followed by India (61.3 million, or 8 percent of the population) and Bangladesh (8.4 million, or 10 percent of the population).