Nutrients In Eggs

Eggs are a nutrient goldmine!

One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, all for 70 calories.

While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, the majority of an egg’s nutrient package is found in the yolk. Nutrients such as:

  • Vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
  • Choline, essential for normal functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, 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.

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Vitamin D and the Sunny Side of Eggs

While USA Today discussed how important Vitamin D is and that many people are deficient, they forgot to mention that eggs are a natural and good source of Vitamin D. For those who aren’t aware, the USDA recently reviewed the egg nutrient data and results show that one Grade A, large egg contains 41 IU of vitamin D, 65 percent higher than the amount reported in the last nutrient analysis.

Egg Nutrition Center recently released a press release on the Sunny Side of Eggs. We as health professionals are aware of the many implications Vitamin D deficiency may have on health-one particular role is Vitamin D and Calcium in bone health and preventing osteoporosis. It will be interesting to see how the research emerges on the Vitamin D issue, but for now adding more natural vitamin D, along with high-quality protein and 12 other essential vitamins and minerals is simple with eggs (and remember it is the company an egg shares-think of MyPlate, not foods high in calories and saturated fat).

Ken Anderson Study: Free Range versus Cage

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The nutritional value of free-range versus cage-produced shell eggs has been a source of ongoing controversy in recent years. Many websites and other publications have touted the health benefits of eggs from free-range birds. However, the fact of the matter is that little scientific evidence exists to support this assertion. And a recent publication by Dr. Ken Anderson from North Carolina State University (Poultry Science 90:1600-1608, 2011) bears this out. Dr. Anderson looked at the fat, cholesterol, and vitamin content of eggs from free-range birds versus conventional cage birds. And his data indicated no difference in the cholesterol content of the eggs (163 mg per large egg for the caged birds; 165 mg per large egg for free-range birds). Similarly, the vitamin A and E content of the eggs were not affected by the conditions to which the birds were exposed. In fact, the total fat content of the free-range birds’ eggs was actually higher than that of the caged birds (the authors hypothesized that this may have been due to the relatively high-fat insects that the free-range hens had access to). A recent study in Europe (Hidalgo et al., Food Chem 106:1031-1038, 2008) demonstrated similar results (free-range eggs no better than caged hen eggs).

No doubt that this debate will continue, largely because it is so tinged with emotion. But science, well done, is free of emotion. And current science doesn’t support the notion that the manner in which laying hens are raised can impact the nutritional quality of the eggs they produce. In fact, raising birds in a more controlled environment offers the ability to better control the diet, thus raising the potential for creating even more healthy egg products in the future.

To read more, please see the press release the Poultry Science Association put out with Ken Anderson.  http://www.poultryscience.org/pr081511.asp?autotry=true&ULnotkn=true

~Mitch

ENC at Pri-Med

Last week I returned from exhibiting at the Pri-med Conference in New York City. This is not the first time I have exhibited at this conference and I’m always pleased with the result.

The attendees to this conference are health professionals from all realms of the medical field. Pri-Med delivers 3 days of medical updates at a remarkably low price which attracts many health professionals who work with low income patients in a community setting. It was very rewarding for us to bring the good news to all these health professionals that eggs are now 14% lower in dietary cholesterol.

In addition, current research shows that there are many health related benefits of consuming an egg; relating to its high quality protein yet low carbohydrate and calorie content, coupled with its 13 essential vitamins and minerals all for approximately 14 cents an egg.

Anna and I were very busy throughout the 3 days talking with physicians, nurses, dietitians and physician assistants about how they can now tell their patients to go back to eating an egg a day, as recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines. We were able to sign up nearly 250 health professionals who were interested in receiving the ENC newsletter, Nutrition CloseUp, as well as completing a survey which entered them into a contest to win a year’s worth of eggs for themselves and a donation to a local NYC food bank. Not surprisingly, most HPs enjoy eggs themselves and have been advising their patients that eggs are a healthful food all along.

 

Celebrate Memorial Day With Eggs!

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

~Marcia

I’m a registered dietitian, director at a supermarket chain and mom to a high-energy 16-month old. So, I understand the challenges some moms face while trying eat well despite their hectic lifestyle. Most of us have good intentions. We want to make healthy, delicious meals for our families–but, some days, our busy lives get in the way.

One thing I remind myself to do is allow ample time to re-charge and enjoy life along the way. Memorial Day is just around the corner and I’m looking forward to the long holiday weekend. I plan to take full advantage of the extra time and the chance to kick back and relax. At some point over the weekend, I’m going to cook, but I want to keep it simple. I plan to make this quick and easy appetizer. It’s one of my favorite recipes to take to a party or serve when I’m hosting. You can literally mix everything in a single bowl and dump it into the pan to bake!

I feel great about serving this for three reasons. One: it’s DELICIOUS and I always get requests for the recipe. Two: it contains spinach—a superfood packed with lutein and beta carotene for eye health, antioxidant vitamins C and E, iron and B vitamins like folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and B6. Three: it contains eggs as a source of perfect protein and 13 essential nutrients. You may also be surprised to learn eggs are 14 percent lower in cholesterol than once thought.

Give these Cheesy Spinach Squares a try and enjoy your holiday!

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Cheesy Spinach Squares
Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook Time:  45 minutes    Makes: 20 squares
Ingredients:
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
3 large eggs
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup skim milk
1 (16-ounce) package 2% sharp cheddar cheese shreds
½  tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp baking soda
nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a  9” x  13” glass baking dish by spraying all sides lightly with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, add spinach, eggs, onion, mushrooms, milk and cheese. Stir.  Sprinkle in salt, flour, onion powder, baking soda and stir until combined thoroughly.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Slice into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Within 2 hours, store any leftover squares in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Squares re-heat easily in the microwave.

Karen Buch RD, LDN

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.