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.

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Planning Ahead for Schedule-Friendly Meals and Snacks

Our blog post comes from one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors, Serena Ball, MS, RD.  Serena is a registered dietitian and mother of four in Chicago. She blogs at

Today is my daughter’s first day of second grade – but it seems we’ve been getting ready for weeks. She’s tried on clothes from last year to see what fits, there’s a pan of homemade lasagna in the freezer, and we attempted to get to bed a little earlier. While your kids may have been hearing school bells for weeks – and some have yet to start school – it’s not Labor Day yet; and in my mind, by that time us moms are supposed to have the school routine down pat. So as you endeavor toward this goal, here are a few tips on planning ahead to fuel your family with nutritious meals and snacks:

Pack lunches the night before – Morning rushes can be too crazy for lunch box assembly. But a little time spent on prepping appetizing kids’ lunches means the difference between healthy foods nourishing their bellies and lunch tossed in the trash. If they pack it, they will eat it. So at the beginning of the week, mom can portion out munchies in zip-top sandwich bags or reusable containers; store in a bin in the refrigerator or pantry. Then throughout the week, have kids pull out the bins to mix and match their lunch box assembly from these options:

  • Protein power: Kid-sized Greek Yogurt, nut butters, lean lunch meats, string cheese, hard boiled eggs with egg slicer
  • Whole grains: Whole wheat tortilla or pita bread, whole grain crackers, whole wheat bread, reusable containers of whole wheat couscous or brown rice
  • Varied veggies: Celery or carrot sticks with mild salsa dip, cucumber slices with hummus dip, shredded carrots to top sandwiches
  • Fruit fun: Sliced apples, grapes, canned peaches/pears, trail mix of dried cranberries/cherries/raisins and nuts

Plan at least three dinners per week over the weekend – Used the weekend to plan, shop for and even begin some of the prep (like chopping vegetables) for several healthy dinners per week. When time is tight the other nights – or schedules change – fill in with super-quick dinner options like sandwiches or scrambled eggs.

muffin fritattas

Your freezer is your friend – If you don’t have big plans over Labor Day, fill your freezer with simple meal solutions that will save time later:

  • Brown ground beef/turkey – Just brown, drain the fat, refrigerate until cool and freeze in zip-tip plastic bags for use in chili, soup, tacos, frittatas.
  • Chop onions, peppers or celery – These veggies freeze well and sautéing them can be a jump-start to almost any recipe.
  • Cook up meals for instant meals – Make and freeze a pot of soup, pasta sauce, lasagna, or one of my favorite grab-and-microwave-and-go breakfasts: The kids will enjoy their “Egg muffins”, i.e. muffin frittatas.




Dietary Protein Needs Across the Lifecycle

Today’s post comes from Dr. Donald Layman. Dr. Layman is the Director of Research at the Egg Nutrition Center and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and a leading researcher studying dietary needs for protein and amino acids.

Dietary protein provides the amino acid building blocks to make new proteins. It’s easy to recognize the importance of protein for children, but new research reveals that dietary protein may be even more important for older adults. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) published a Position Paper in the August issue of the Journal highlighting the importance of the amount and distribution of protein at individual meals for healthy aging. The new research defines the need for older adults to consume 25 to 30 g of protein at multiple meals each day with emphasis on the need for protein at breakfast.

Nearly 50 million Americans are over the age of 65. With life expectancy reaching 90, disability is the #1 health liability for adults. Nearly 50% of adults > 65 years old exhibit disability. Reduced physical activity contributes to weight gain characterized as increased body fat and loss of muscle. Age-related loss of muscle is called sarcopenia and a primary contributor to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis in adults.

Current dietary guidelines for protein focus on consuming the minimum RDA for protein of 0.8 g/kg body weight with no mention of meal distribution. New research suggests that adults may need 1.0 to 1.6 g/kg of protein and with a minimum of 30 g at each meal. This meal threshold for protein arises from the specific requirement for essential amino acids to repair and replace proteins in muscle. In children and young adults, synthesis of muscle protein is driven by hormones, physical activity, and a good diet. However, when growth ends, adults must maintain muscle without the metabolic advantage of growth hormones and many adults reduce physical activity. These age-related changes emphasize the need for dietary protein.

The average American consumes < 12 g of protein at breakfast, often < 20 g at lunch, and > 65 g at dinner. Any meal that contains < 25 g of protein provides no benefit to muscles and essentially wastes the protein in the meal. Dietary advice for older adults needs to recognize the protein threshold at meals and modify eating patterns to shift protein to meals early in the day.


Promoting Men’s Health All Year

As we say goodbye to June and National Men’s Health Month, it is important to keep the guys motivated to stay healthy throughout the year.  National Men’s Health Month does a great job of raising awareness around this important issue, so let’s put that awareness into action!

As a practitioner, how do you encourage your male patients to schedule regular visits?  Once they are in your office, what is the most effective way to discuss their diet and overall health?

When it comes to diet, protein is an important nutrient. Research indicates that high-quality protein may help active adults build muscle strength and middle-aged and aging adults prevent muscle loss. Consuming protein following exercise is a great way to get the most benefits from exercise by encouraging muscle tissue repair and growth.

Here is an article that discusses some of the research and tips for including protein as part of a healthy diet.  Perhaps starting with a healthy breakfast with a great source of protein like eggs can be a goal for every guy (and gal)!

Remember a synonym for diet is nourishment.  Nourish your bodies!

“Kids LiveWell” Aims to Improve Eating Habits in Children through Healthier Restaurant Options

Family meals seem to be becoming more popular again; however they have a new face.  Many families are sitting together, but not at home. They are dining out in restaurants.   New measures are being taken to help the consumers make better choices.  “Kids LiveWell” was released this past week by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).  It is a new nationwide initiative that provides parents and children with a growing selection of healthful menu options when dining out.

Registered Dietitians assisted the restaurants in creating the choices for the kids menu and the restaurants are offering and promoting a variety of items that meet the qualifications.  The qualifying criteria are based on leading health organizations’ scientific recommendations, including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

Kids LiveWell Nutrition Criteria for Full Kids’ Meals (entrée, side option and beverage):

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 770 mg of sodium
  • 2 or more food groups (see below)

Kids LiveWell Nutrition Criteria for Side Items:

  • 200 calories or less
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤ 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • < 0.5 grams trans fat (artificial trans fat only)
  • ≤ 35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤ 250 mg of sodium
  • 1 food group (see below)

Entrees must include two sources & sides must include one source of the following:

  • Fruit: > ½ cup = 1 star (includes 100% juice)
  • Vegetable: > ½ cup = 1 star
  • Whole grains: contains whole grains = 1 star
  • Lean protein (skinless white meat poultry, fish/seafood, beef, pork, tofu, beans, egg whites/substitute): > 2 ounces meat, 1 egg equivalent, 1 oz nuts/seeds/dry bean/peas = 1 star (lean as defined by USDA)
  • Lower-fat dairy (1% or skim milk and dairy): > ½ cup = 1 star (while not considered low-fat, 2% milk is allowed if included in the meal and the meal still fits the full meal criteria)

Healthy Dining Finder has listed the “Inaugural Leaders” and new restaurants are going to be added weekly.   There are a variety of options for children.  Admittedly, it would have been nice if more eggs were included. Packed full of nutrients and affordable, eggs would be a great option for restaurants and parents.  Upon review, I only noted one restaurant had a regular egg option at breakfast.  The majority had egg white or substitute as related to the criteria of lean protein.  It is possible that a restaurant could include an egg if they were able to meet other criteria, but it could be difficult based on the food selection that a particular restaurant may have.

I personally see some benefits to this program.  Often the caloric content of adult meals is underestimated, as are kids meals. I think this awareness is a step in the right direction.  However from my previous experiences in working with families, I know that it often does not work for one person in the family to eat differently that the rest.  Will this help others in the family choose healthier choices?  If the adults or older teens are eating the high calorie, high fat options; what does this say to the child?  Perhaps more adults will utilize the Healthy Dining Finder website, not just for their kids but for themselves.

Protein at Breakfast: The Most Important Part of the Most Important Meal

Breakfast Eggs

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


You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It’s true for everyone, and especially for kids.  There’s also plenty of science to back it up.  Kids who eat breakfast do better in school.  They also miss fewer days from school and are more likely to have a normal body weight.

Many adults skip breakfast and even when they don’t, their breakfast tends to run more towards coffee and a roll and butter.  Not much protein at all and that’s how they’re starting their day, setting themselves up for a possible crash mid-morning and real hunger pangs by lunch, which may also be skipped.

Biggest complaint about not eating breakfast is a lack of time.  As a nutritionist working with families and kids, honestly, I have a rough time with this one.  Breakfast is just too important to dismiss casually like that.  Funny – parents cringe at the thought of their child going to bed without eating dinner but they often have no problem with a child who skips breakfast.

This needs to change, but so does the way we think of breakfast in general.  Research on adults has shown that people tend to eat about two-thirds of their protein at dinner and only about 10% of it at breakfast.  That’s a concern, because the first meal of the day should contain at least as much protein as the dinner meal.  Not to say that people should be eating more protein overall, just spreading it out more evenly.  A third of your day’s protein should come at breakfast.  There’s evidence showing that people will utilize protein more efficiently, that is, for muscle growth and repair, if protein is more evenly distributed.  About a third of a day’s supply at each meal would do it.

Protein: Nature’s Appetite Regulator

Protein tends to help you feel full and satisfied, less hungry.  It does this in two ways: by blunting the rise in blood sugar and by staying in your stomach for longer, because it takes the body longer to digest it.

I have a hectic life, too.  I don’t always know when I’m going to get to lunch but I’m sensitive to hunger pangs like anyone else.  As long as I get enough protein in the morning, the timing of my next meal can be a bit more flexible – as it may need to be.

Recommendations are for between 10-35% of your calories from protein, so it’s not likely you’ll get too much protein, especially if you think of just shifting some of your protein from dinner to breakfast.  Aim for leaner protein foods to keep calories reasonable.

My Favorites at Breakfast

Cereal is often a typical at breakfast food and you don’t have to give it up to get more protein.  Indeed, whole grain cereal is a good way to get fresh fruit and low-fat milk into your diet and you need these foods.  I think of this breakfast as only a start however.  That’s right.  Add at least an ounce of lean protein to kick this breakfast into full steam.  Here are some of my favorite protein-boosting breakfast foods:

  • Hard-cooked eggs.  A total go-to food.  They’re fast, easy, and give me great protein and nutrition in the morning.  I keep a bowl in the fridge at all times and it’s a top-notch grab-and-go protein boost.  Yes, they’re absolutely OK every day.
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt.  Another great lean protein food, just pricier.
  • Low-fat cottage cheese.  It’s not “girl food”.  Check the label.  It’s protein-loaded and ready when you are.
  • Leftover dinner.  Not a big meal, just add that leftover chicken drumstick or slice of roast beef.

If you add one of the above to your usual bowl of cereal/fruit/milk, you’ll not only stay full for longer, you’ll get protein when your body actually needs more of it – first thing in the morning.

– Keith