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5 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Eggs

Natalie Rizzo National Egg Month Blog

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to write this blog post.

 

May is National Egg Month, which makes it the perfect time to brush up on your egg knowledge. Sure, you likely know that eggs are an affordable high-quality protein and a nutritious addition to your breakfast routine. But there are a few other little-known facts about eggs that may surprise you. In honor of National Egg Month, test your egg-spertise and see how many of these unexpected facts are news to you.

1. The eggshell color doesn’t affect quality.

The only difference between eggs with white and brown shells is the hen. Those with red feathers and red ear lobes lay eggs with brown shells, while eggs with white shells come from white feathered and white lobed hens. Hens that lay brown eggs tend to be larger and require more feed than hens that lay white eggs, so brown eggs are often more expensive to cover the cost of the extra feed. The quality, flavor, nutrition or cooking uses are the exact same, regardless of the shell color.

2. Eggs are one of the most concentrated food sources of choline in the U.S. diet.

Choline is a nutrient necessary for gene expression, the formation of cell membranes, lipid transport, metabolism and early brain development (1). Because choline is considered so critical to neurocognitive development, a 2018 position paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that although all nutrients are necessary for brain growth, key nutrients that support neurodevelopment include protein, zinc, choline, iron, folate, iodine, vitamins A, D, B6 and B12 and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (2). Eggs are an excellent source of choline and provide varying amounts of all of the nutrients recommended by AAP.

3. They are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and the immune system’s defense against diseases (3). Recent data from NHANES 2001-2010 examined Vitamin D status of adults over the age of 18 and found that 28.9% of people were deficient in this crucial vitamin (4). Vitamin D is in relatively few foods, such as fatty fish, eggs, dairy products, and mushrooms. One large egg has about 41 IU of Vitamin D (6% daily value).

4. Eggs contain carotenoids.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids present in eggs, both of which are important for brain and eye health. Specifically, lutein and zeaxanthin help protect the eye from harmful blue light and macular degeneration (5).

5. Older hard boiled eggs make them easier to peel.

It’s been speculated that older eggs are easier to peel because the air cell that forms between the shell membranes as the egg ages, and this helps separate the shell from the egg. In fresher eggs, the air cell is small, making it more difficult to remove the shell. If it sounds like an old wives’ tale, try hard boiling and peeling a week old egg versus a brand new one and see for yourself!

 

References:

  1. Office of Dietary Supplements – Choline. (2019). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
  2. Schwarzenberg SJ and Georgieff MK, AAP COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION. Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics.  2018;141(2)e20173716
  3. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. (2019). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-%20HealthProfessional/
  4. Liu, X., Baylin, A., & Levy, P. (2018). Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among US adults: prevalence, predictors and clinical implications. British Journal Of Nutrition119(8), 928-936. doi: 10.1017/s0007114518000491
  5. Wu, J., Cho, E., Willett, W., Sastry, S., & Schaumberg, D. (2015). Intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Other Carotenoids and Age-Related Macular Degeneration During 2 Decades of Prospective Follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmology133(12), 1415. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.3590

 

Eggs and Heart Disease: New study in line with broader science

Mickey Circulation Blog

A new study published last week in the American Heart Association journal Circulation adds more data to the mix on egg consumption and risk for heart disease1. Recall just a few weeks ago, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) made headlines when it seemed to reverse the course of the latest dietary recommendations to say that, once again, eggs and dietary cholesterol were linked with increased heart disease risk2. Now, just a few weeks later a new study says exactly the opposite.

In the new study, researchers from Oxford University in the U.K. analyzed data from over 400,000 men and women in Europe over an average follow up of 12 years. The authors reported a small but statistically significant decrease in risk for ischemic heart disease with every 20 gram increment of egg intake (about ½ an egg per day). The researchers also reported similar favorable results for yogurt and cheese consumption, while consumption of red and processed meats was associated with increased risk for heart disease.

Does this mean the science on eggs has changed yet again, just within a matter of weeks? No, it doesn’t. What it does mean is that the science never actually changed with the publication of the study in JAMA. As with any study, it is important to not view it in isolation, but rather in the broader context of the total scientific literature. This is particularly true with studies that are observational in nature, because in this type of research there are often outlier studies that deviate from the clear majority.

Furthermore, if you read the details of the new study the authors rightly pointed out that, as with any new observational study, there are several important factors to consider when interpreting these results:

  • The beneficial associations eggs and yogurt may be influenced by reverse causation bias.
  • There will always be residual confounding in observational studies that cannot be eliminated; even though the investigators statistically adjusted for many potential confounders including lifestyle factors.
  • The results may not be generalizable to populations outside this European cohort.
  • Associations with eggs and yogurt were no longer significant after excluding the first 4 years of follow-up.

Importantly, these are factors that should be considered in any observational study, whether the results are favorable or unfavorable to a dietary or lifestyle factor.

That said, these latest findings published in Circulation are more in line with previous meta-analyses of observational cohorts that reported either no relationship with egg consumption and cardiovascular risk3,4 or small decreases in cardiovascular risk5. Given all the caveats and confounding factors that are involved in observational studies, consistency across many studies over time is important.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day to day headlines from the next big study, and view the latest study as the next “game changer”. But the truth is science doesn’t change all that quickly, especially nutrition science. Many studies over the course of years or even decades are needed to achieve consensus. This is in fact what happened when the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer listed dietary cholesterol as a nutrient of concern. The evidence required to do so involved 16 studies over the course of many years3.

Lastly, as these studies are all observational in nature it is important to remember that we cannot infer a cause and effect relationship, no matter if the result is favorable or unfavorable to heart disease risk.  Therefore, it is important to view these results in the context of existing randomized controlled trials that consistently show egg intake does not negatively impact cardiovascular disease risk factors, and in some cases, has shown to improve risk factors such as HDL, or “good” cholesterol6.

 

References

  1. Key et al. Consumption of Meat, Fish, Dairy Products, Eggs and Risk of Ischemic Heart Disease: A Prospective Study of 7198 Incident Cases Among 409,885 Participants in the Pan-European EPIC Cohort. Circulation. 2019 Apr 22. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Zhong et al. Associations of dietary cholesterol or egg consumption with incident cardiovascular disease and mortality. JAMA. 2019;321(11):1081-1095.
  3. Shin JY, Xun P, Nakamura Y, He K. Egg consumption in relation to risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jul;98(1):146-59.
  4. Rong Y, Chen L, Zhu T, Song Y, Yu M, Shan Z, Sands A, Hu FB, Liu L. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2013 Jan 7;346:e8539.
  5. Alexander DD, et. al. Meta-analysis of egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016. 6:1-13.
  6. Blesso CN, Fernandez ML. Dietary Cholesterol, Serum Lipids, and Heart Disease: Are Eggs Working for or Against You? Nutrients. 2018 Mar 29;10(4). pii: E426. doi: 10.3390/nu10040426. Review.

Eggs are a nutrient powerhouse, but overall diet is a critical consideration

Jen - NHANES - Overall Diet Blog

The average American diet does not align with the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.1,2 With evidence that lower diet quality can impact health,3 research is needed to better understand how substituting nutrient-dense foods within typical eating patterns might improve nutrient intake and diet quality across various population subgroups.  A recent analysis of dietary data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicate eggs can contribute significantly to nutrient intake, but consideration of the total dietary pattern is essential.

Using 2001-2014 NHANES dietary data, a recent modeling study evaluated the diet quality of food secure and insecure individuals when eggs were added to the diet.  It was hypothesized that substituting egg dishes for other commonly consumed dishes at certain eating occasions (breakfast, lunch, dinner) could improve daily nutrient intake among vulnerable populations.  The diet model replaced the most commonly consumed main dish (e.g., breakfast cereal) with the most commonly consumed egg dish (e.g., scrambled eggs) on a gram per gram basis.4

The data from this study indicate that food secure individuals were more likely to meet recommendations for many nutrients compared to food insecure individuals.  Substituting eggs as a main dish at breakfast, lunch or dinner did not influence total nutrient intake, regardless of food security status.  There was a meaningful decrease in the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy when eggs were substituted at lunch or dinner for both food secure and food insecure non-participants and increased choline intake for all subgroups.  Of note, when eggs were substituted as the main dish at breakfast, the prevalence of folate inadequacy increased.  Overall, regardless of food security status, these data indicate that when eggs are substituted for other foods in the diet, consideration of the impact on other foods and nutrients is required.

These recent observational data continue to support that eggs can contribute beneficial nutrients to all subgroups of the U.S. population.  Eggs are affordable and are a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients, including choline which is under-consumed by most Americans.5 Importantly, the associations found in these NHANES analyses indicate there may be opportunity to educate about total dietary patterns to best meet dietary recommendations.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2015.
  2. Hiza, H.A., et al., Diet quality of Americans differs by age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, and education level. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2013. 113(2): p. 297-306.
  3. Murray, C.J., et al., The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. Jama, 2013. 310(6): p. 591-608.
  4. Conrad, Z., et al., Nutrient intake disparities in the US: modeling the effect of food substitutions. Nutr J, 2018. 17(1): p. 53.
  5. Wallace, T.C. and V.L. Fulgoni, Usual Choline Intakes Are Associated with Egg and Protein Food Consumption in the United States. Nutrients, 2017. 9(8).

Why Eggs Are The Perfect Recovery Food

Natalie Rizzo Blog Post

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to write this blog post.

 

Eggs have a unique nutrition profile that is great for athletes of all ages. While they make a nice addition to any meal of the day, the nutrients in eggs can help with recovery after exercise. Just as stretching and cooling down is important after a workout, recovery nutrition is vital for repairing worn down muscle and revitalizing energy stores. But it’s not just the protein in eggs that make them a recovery food. Let’s take a look at the plethora of nutrients in eggs that help refuel a healthy athlete.

Protein: Research indicates that eating 20-30 grams of protein from foods that include leucine, such as eggs, may promote muscle repair after exercise1. One large egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein with all nine essential amino acids. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends athletes focus on whole food sources of protein that contain all of the essential amino acids to aid in muscle protein synthesis2.

Vitamin D: This micronutrient is critical for bone health, and research suggests that adequate vitamin D intake reduces the risk of stress fracture, total body inflammation, illness, and impaired muscle function3. Unfortunately, adequate vitamin D intake is difficult to achieve due to variations in skin color, the time spent outdoors and geographic location. Eggs are one of the only natural food sources of vitamin D, with one large egg containing 6% of the daily value.

Lutein: This antioxidant has been known to accumulate in the eye, and scientists have recently discovered that it’s also present in the brain. Lutein in the eye may help athletes with visual performance and protecting the retina from damaging light4. Plus, new research in children suggests that lutein could have cognitive boosting capabilities and may even improve academic performance5. Luckily, lutein bioavailability is enhanced when it is consumed with dietary fat, making lutein from eggs a more absorbable source of lutein than many other foods6.

Other Benefits

Besides the impressive nutrient profile, eggs also have other practical applications for recovery, such as:

  • Eggs are affordable. One egg only costs about 15¢, which is quite the nutritional bang for your buck.
  • They are quick to cook. You can cook up an egg in less than 10 minutes, which will quickly satisfy a rumbling tummy and tired muscles after a tough workout.
  • Eggs go with practically anything. You can put an egg on almost anything— pizza, pasta, grains, bread, oatmeal, veggies and more!

 

References

  1. Mamerow, M., Mettler, J., English, K., Casperson, S., Arentson-Lantz, E., & Sheffield-Moore, M. et al. (2014). Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults. The Journal Of Nutrition, 144(6), 876-880. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280
  2.  Campbell, B., Kreider, R., Ziegenfuss, T., La Bounty, P., Roberts, M., & Burke, D. et al. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal Of The International Society Of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 8. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-4-8
  3. Larson-Meyer, D., & Willis, K. (2010). Vitamin D and Athletes. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 9(4), 220-226. doi: 10.1249/jsr.0b013e3181e7dd45
  4. Hammond, B., & Fletcher, L. (2012). Influence of the dietary carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin on visual performance: application to baseball. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 96(5), 1207S-1213S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.034876
  5. Barnett, S., Khan, N., Walk, A., Raine, L., Moulton, C., & Cohen, N. et al. (2017). Macular pigment optical density is positively associated with academic performance among preadolescent children. Nutritional Neuroscience, 21(9), 632-640. doi: 10.1080/1028415x.2017.1329976
  6.  Chung, H., Rasmussen, H., & Johnson, E. (2004). Lutein Bioavailability Is Higher from Lutein-Enriched Eggs than from Supplements and Spinach in Men. The Journal Of Nutrition, 134(8), 1887-1893. doi: 10.1093/jn/134.8.1887

Easter Recipe Ideas

Jessica Ivey Easter Blog Post

By Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN to write this blog post.

 

Easter Sunday is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate, and at least in my family, where there’s a celebration, there’s food. What better way to enjoy this holiday than with eggs? Americans are projected to consume about 279 eggs in 2019, and many of these eggs are consumed on Easter. So, before you dive into all those Easter basket goodies, fill up on these egg-centric dishes.

Easy-Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs

One large hard-boiled egg provides 6 grams of protein and varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals. Eating a protein-rich meal or snack can help increase satiety and might help keep you from over-indulging on Easter basket goodies and sweet treats. Easy-Peel Hard-Boiled Eggs are a foolproof way to enjoy this protein-rich snack. Check out this Easter toolkit and these ideas for fun and creative ways to decorate your eggs, from naturally dyed eggs to glow-in-the-dark and glitter eggs. If you plan to eat your decorated eggs, be sure to keep them refrigerated as much as possible, and throw out any eggs that have been cracked or have been unrefrigerated for more than two hours.

Make-Ahead Brunch Recipes

Whether you’ll be hosting a meal or taking a dish potluck style, a make-ahead recipe can free you up to enjoy time with family and friends. For a classic option, make Deviled Eggs, which can be prepared the day before (just refrigerate the eggs and filing separately and fill them just before serving). Or if you’re feeling extra festive, make these adorable Deviled Egg Chicks. Asparagus and Egg Strata, featuring ham and a favorite seasonal vegetable, can be prepped the night before, refrigerated overnight, and cooked in the morning for a fuss-free option. Banana Oat Walnut Muffins are higher in fiber and lower in sugar as compared to traditional banana bread for a nutrient-rich alternative. And Classic Egg Salad is an ideal option for a picnic in the park.

Egg-Centric Dishes for Any Time of Day

Eggs aren’t just for breakfast and can be a nutrient-rich part of any meal. For a fun and festive bread try The Easter Bunny’s Eggs in a Basket, and serve alongside ham and a light green salad. Basic Cheese Souffle is an elegant dish sure to impress your guests; just be sure to time your preparation so that the soufflé can be served immediately.

Fun and Creative Sweet Treats

Save the Easter candy for later and enjoy these special occasion desserts. Bunnies’ Tres Leches Mini Cakes are perfectly portioned and can be made the night before. Featuring two seasonal fruits, Strawberry and Rhubarb Custard Meringue Pie is a sweet-tart treat to round out a special meal.

 

Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN, is a dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthy for a happy and delicious life. Jessica offers approachable healthy living tips, from fast recipes to meal prep guides and ways to enjoy exercise on her website, JessicaIveyRDN.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.