Today’s post is the third of a series of blogs from our friend Rebecca Scritchfield MA, RD, ACSM HFS.
Disclosure from Rebecca Scritchfield MA, RD, ACSM HFS: I was compensated by Egg Nutrition Center for my time in writing this blog post.
Natural, organic, cage-free, nutrient-added, brown, white, large, jumbo – the list of different types of eggs goes on and on. If your clients are anything like mine, they’re probably a bit overwhelmed by all the egg choices out there. I encourage my clients to incorporate more eggs in their diets because they are an affordable, versatile, healthy option, but all the different options sometimes create confusion in the egg aisle. It’s important to meet clients where they’re at with their egg knowledge and take the guesswork out of egg selection.
In this blog I am going to highlight a few of my favorite egg advantages and compare the different types of eggs on the market to provide clarity for you and your clients.
As dietitians, we all know about the numerous nutritional benefits of eggs – they’re full of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. But did you know eggs are the least expensive source of high-quality protein on the market today? They’re a great budget-friendly option for everyone. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average price of a dozen large eggs has only gone up by about $1 in the past ten years1. One egg only costs about 15¢, which offers a great nutritional bang for your buck.
One of the most incredible things about eggs is how versatile they are. Many egg dishes are quick and easy, so they’re ideal for busy clients and their families.
Everyone’s familiar with the old breakfast standbys – scrambled, fried, sunny-side up – but there are so many exciting, fresh ways to include eggs at breakfast. I really like breakfast burritos and these muffin frittatas to mix things up in the morning.
And eggs aren’t only for breakfast; many egg dishes can make a wonderful lunch or dinner. I recommend this tomato and avocado egg salad to my clients, and a savory egg bake like Italian Vegetable Custard which makes a quick, easy brunch or supper. Hard-boiled eggs are great snacks, and I love how portable they are for those of us who are constantly on-the-go.
If you’re looking for more egg recipes, the Egg Nutrition Center offers a ton of resources including client recipe handouts. You’ll also find great handouts on the different nutrients in egg yolks and the different types of eggs that I discuss below.
Types of Eggs
America’s egg farmers work hard to provide a variety of quality options for their customers.
However, the number of choices in the egg aisle can be overwhelming and may be a barrier between your clients and this affordable, nutritious food. In the following section I am going to break down the different types of eggs so you can help your clients pick the eggs that best suit them. Here are some phrases you and your clients may encounter on an egg carton:
- Natural – the US Department of Agriculture identifies all shell eggs as natural
- Nutrient Enhanced – These eggs are laid by hens that are fed a special diet enriched with nutrient dense foods, such as flaxseeds, algae, or fish oils. Conventional eggs already qualify for claims regarding a good source of protein and vitamin D, which your clients may see on the labels. The specialty eggs may contain different claims given the enhancement of the feed.
- Cage-free – Hens that lay these eggs are able to roam through a building, barn, or open area and have unlimited access to fresh food and water
- Free-Range – These hens have access to the outdoors. Their diets consist of traditional grain feed supplemented by foraged insects and plants, which may slightly increase the protein contents of their eggs. Nutrient content is affected only by diet, not the manner in which hens are raised.
- Conventional – Hens living in enclosures with access to food and water produce the eggs in this efficient type of farming.
- Organic – All eggs labelled “organic” are produced according to USDA organic standards. Eggs are laid by hens that eat food free of pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers, and do not receive antibiotics or growth hormones.
There are a lot options out there when it comes to eggs. With this information you should be able to help your clients select different types of eggs based on their personal preferences and budgets.
If you’re looking for more information, the Egg Nutrition Center is a great resource for health professionals to find current nutrition research on cholesterol, protein, micronutrients, and other general health topics. The Incredible Egg website and Facebook page offer fun egg facts and recipes as well.
(1) United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs, and dairy products (April 15, 2011). Retrieved on April 15, 2011 fromhttp://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatPriceSpreads/