Eggs Across The Lifespan

Eggs contain a number of nutrients that are essential throughout the lifespan:

  • High-quality protein contains building blocks needed to support healthy bones and muscles. Research suggests that exercise, along with optimal protein intake, can slow the effects of sarcopenia or chronic age-related muscle loss.
  • Choline is essential for normal liver function and brain health. It is especially important during pregnancy to support normal fetal growth and development, and most pregnant women do not consume adequate amounts of choline. Consuming eggs during pregnancy is one solution to choline consumption issues.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

Filter By Topic

Lutein, Zeaxanthin and Eye Health

Recent news on the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin caught my eye (pun intended). Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that can impact, among other things, visual health by decreasing the risk of macular degeneration, an age-related eye condition. Lutein and zeaxanthin can be found in green leafy vegetables – such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli – as well as eggs. However, research suggests that the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs are more bioavailable than when from plant sources. This is probably due to the lipid matrix of the egg yolk, which facilitates absorption of the fat soluble carotenoids. And nutrient bioavailability is an important consideration for human health. It doesn’t much matter if a food is high in a given nutrient if that nutrient is inaccessible to the body upon consumption.

The amount of lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs is variable, and is largely dependent on the feed that the hen consumes. Some egg producers fortify the hens’ diet with marigold extract or purified lutein in an effort to raise the content of these vitamins in eggs. As a consumer you can get a rough idea of the lutein content of an egg by observing the color of the egg yolk. Lutein imparts an orange-yellow color to the yolk. Yolks from hens not supplemented with additional carotenoids tend to have a more yellow color.

For more information on lutein and zeaxanthin and their impact on eye health, the articles below are recommended. With an aging population comes a rise in age-related health conditions such as macular degeneration.  So you’re likely to hear more and more about these carotenoids in the future.

 

Vishwanathan R, Goodrow-Kotyla EF, Wooten BR, Wilson TA, Nicolosi RJ. Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk increases macular pigment concentrations in older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering statins. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90:1272-9.

Moeller SM, Jacques PF, Blumberg JB. The potential role of dietary xanthophylls in cataract and age-related macular degeneration. J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19:522S-527S.

Eight Ideas for Making Family Mealtime a Success

Hi Readers!  Today we have one of our Registered Dietitian Advisors, Eileen Behan, blogging.  Enjoy!

~Marcia

It’s after 6 pm; you just walked in and have a hungry family to feed. Many American families solve the nightly dinner dilemma by grabbing drive-through, eating pizza or fending for themselves before splitting up to spend the evening doing homework, answering e-mails, or watching television. Most families recognize the family meal to be important they just need some help making it work. I have found preplanning and keeping the refrigerator or freezer stocked with ready- to cook food is one important strategy.

The importance of the family meal is not a new idea.  A 2000 White House Report by the Council of Economic Advisors, found that children who eat with an adult five times in a week are less likely to be involved in high risk behaviors such as smoking, taking drugs and using alcohol.

Food historian Margaret Visser considers eating together to be so important she writes in her book The Rituals of Dinner: the Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners that one definition of family is “those who eat together.”

Keep in mind perfection is not the goal -the real goal is spending time together and reconnecting. It won’t be a surprise to any of us to hear time constraints, and “picky eaters” are common obstacles to the family meal. To make family meals happen turn off the television, cell phones and computers. Reducing screen time and eating family meals has a secondary benefit of reducing the risk of obesity

Here are some meal planning ideas I suggest for busy families:

  • Preplan meals and cook on the weekend so you have a ready-to-heat meal during the week.
  • Buy something pre-made a rotisserie chicken for example then balance the meal with a side dish, and a salad.
  • You can do the same with fast food too,  buy a sandwich or burger on the way  home and serve it with a fruit plate and cooked frozen or fresh vegetables.
  • Keep ingredients for “emergency meals” on hand, have eggs for a quick omelet, frozen meat, poultry, or fish and an assortment of vegetables canned, fresh or frozen.
  • To keep the meal balanced always serve a fruit or vegetable or both with every menu.
  • Involve the whole family in meal planning, ask children to grade vegetables, A-F, to determine those they like.
  • For the picky eaters always serve something you know they will eat that might be bread and butter or pasta and cheese. If you know the vegetable won’t be popular put out a bunch of grapes or a bowl of sliced fruit.
  • For ideas on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your menu visit the For the Love of Food Project at www.fortheloveoffood.org
  • If dinner doesn’t work try breakfast as the family meal. To make breakfast successful preplan the night before, have the ingredients for scrambled eggs and toast ready to go and serve with a fruit salad, a sliced grapefruit or frozen fruit defrosted in the refrigerator overnight or try the recipe for my family’s favorite called Blueberry Puff below

Once dinner is on the table sit down, and ignore the dishes or laundry until after the meal. Mealtime presents a good way to catch up, but sometimes that’s easier said then done. To find out how the day went ask everyone to list their high and low points as a conversation starter. To keep meals pleasant don’t focus on who is eating what, focus on basic manners and good behavior. Then enjoy your meal and your family.

Blueberry Puff

I prepare this when I want a hot breakfast but don’t have time to flip pancakes or tend eggs. If extra servings are needed, don’t double the recipe, make two separate batches instead.

Makes 2 servings

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the butter or oil  in a 1-quart baking dish and put it in the hot oven  for 1 to 2 minutes, until the butter melts and the dish is hot. Remove the hot dish from the oven and swirl the butter or oil so that it evenly coats the bottom of the sides of the dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and flour and beat well, using a wire whisk or a fork, Pour the batter into the warm dish and scatter the fruit over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown around the edges. Serve immediately with maple syrup.

Nutrients per serving using butter: 287 calories, 12.4 g fat, 6.0 g saturated fat, cholesterol 206 mg,137 mg sodium, 32.3 g carbohydrate, 1.7 g fiber.

Childhood Nutrition Myths and Facts

Hi Readers –  As you may have noticed, we have changed our blog name to Nutrition Unscrambled. Enjoy!

I was recently made aware of a blog called Raise Healthy Eaters. The site looks very good, and it offers a number of excellent tips on healthy eating for kids. A recent post discussed various nutritional myths, many of which were aimed at the micronutrient needs of children.

If you’re interested in learning more about healthy eating for children, this blog is worth checking out. And while we’re on the topic of healthy eating for children, a couple of recent studies you should be aware of are:

Krebs NF, Gao D, Gralla J, et al. Efficacy and safety of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for weight loss in severely obese adolescents. J Pediatr 2010.

The study demonstrated that severely obese adolescents who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) after 13 weeks and were also able to maintain weight loss after six months versus those who followed a low-fat diet. The obese adolescents who followed the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet also experienced greater fat mass loss and reductions in triglyceride levels.

 Leidy HJ, Racki EM. The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effect on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. Int J Obs 2010.

These researchers examined the impact of a protein-rich breakfast on adolescents who traditionally skipped breakfast. When the study participants ate a protein-rich breakfast the researchers observed that the teens were less hungry and ate approximately 130 fewer calories at lunch.

It continues to amaze me that nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese,  which increases their risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. More and more research is suggesting that the high carbohydrate eating practices that have been so prevalent in the U.S. for many years may be exacerbating the problem. Newer studies suggesting the benefits of higher protein/lower carb diets, such as those cited above are provocative, and worth considering.

Eggs are Nutrient-Rich; an Egg-A-Day is OK

As a registered dietitian I’ve always been asked about “healthy foods”. I know at parties people watch what I take from the buffet table and feel a little uncomfortable eating decadent foods when I’m around. This is strange since my philosophy is to enjoy foods but make a diet of those which supply the most nutrients whenever possible.

This is why I was happy to see the list of “The 10 most healthy foods” posted last week on the HealthKicker blog. This list offers a reasonable list of foods that are both delicious and nutrient rich. The list doesn’t mention only trendy foods that are examples of good marketing but instead foods that have stood the test of time. On the list are berries, dark leafy vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, dairy, beans/legumes, nuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and eggs. Not very radical but reasonable, these foods won’t make you stand out at parties but will help supply the nutrients needed for maintaining good health. In fact, just recently my youngest child who is now officially an adult came home from college and remarked at dinner that he never noticed that I always cook “healthy”. By this he meant, I offer a variety of vegetables at meals and I rarely fry foods or use gravies. I consider it a success that it took so long for him to notice that this was different than what he observed others eating. He hasn’t suffered, but learned to enjoy foods and preparations that are naturally healthy.

I mentioned trendy foods and this is a point worth repeating.  HealthKicker blog points out the various reasons natural foods are full of nutrients. For example, the nutritional content of an egg as a source of high-quality protein, choline, lutein and zeaxanthin is mentioned in relation to the role in pregnancy, eye health and the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.  This is very timely information considering the upcoming release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines which is our government’s guidance for getting adequate nutrition from the American food supply. In fact, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded in their scientific report that the consumption of one egg a day is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in health adults. Now that’s a food trend that good to see is back in style.

– Marcia