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.

The Incredible, Edible, and Affordable Egg

ital bake

Protein has been a real buzzword lately, and for good reason. Protein is made up of amino acids, the building blocks for muscle, blood, skin, hair, and nails. In total, there are 20 amino acids, which join together in different combinations to form unique proteins in the body. Some of these amino acids, nine to be exact, can’t be made by the body, so they are known as essential amino acids, as it is “essential” that we consume these nine amino acids through the foods we eat. A complete protein source is one that provides all of the essential amino acids; these are also called high-quality proteins.1 Animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and cheese are considered complete or high-quality protein sources. Of all the high-quality sources of protein, eggs are the most affordable at an average of just 15 cents apiece and they deliver 13 other vital nutrients, including vitamin D, choline, riboflavin and phosphorus.2,3

Eggs are a  nutritious choice for families on a budget.  But it’s also important to pair eggs with the company they deserve, such as colorful seasonal vegetables, whole grains and dairy for a nutritious, balanced meal.

The below Italian Vegetable Custard serves four and provides a balanced, inexpensive, and quick dinner.  Looking for affordable on-the-go snacks? We’ve got several portable snack ideas for you to check out.

Italian Vegetable Custard

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups coarsely shredded yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded zucchini
  • 1 can (2.25 oz.) slices ripe olives, drained, DIVIDED
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried basil leaves
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • 6 very thin tomato slices
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced, separated into rings
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2oz.)

Directions

  • Step one: Heat oven to 450°F. BEAT eggs and flour in medium bowl until smooth. ADD yellow squash, zucchini and ¼ cup olives; mix well. SPREAD in greased 8-inch square baking pan.
  • Step two: BAKE in center of 450°F oven just until custard is set, about 10 minutes.
  • Step three: MIX Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic salt; sprinkle over custard. TOP evenly with tomato, remaining olives, onion and Jack cheese. BAKE until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.  

Nutrition Information

Per Serving

Excellent Source: Protein, Folate and Choline Good Source: Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron

Calories: 237; Total Fat: 12 g; Saturated fat: 5 g; Polyunsaturated fat: 1 g; Monounsaturated fat: 3 g

Cholesterol: 201 mg; Sodium: 424 mg; Carbohydrates: 19 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Protein: 14 g; Vitamin A: 727.9 IU; Vitamin D: 41.7 IU; Folate: 83.4 mcg; Calcium: 110.8 mg; Iron: 2.6 mg; Choline: 138.7 mg; Vitamin C: 19

References:

1)        Smith, M. (2011, August 11). Protein directory. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/protein-directory

2)        United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs, and dairy products (August 2012). Retrieved on July 23, 2013 from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatPriceSpreads/

3)        United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata. Nutrient facts per raw serving.

 

 

 

The Power of Vitamin A

Vitamin A Eggs

Vitamin A is most commonly recognized for its beneficial effects on eye health, while its other important functions are often overlooked.  As with other vitamins, there are different forms of vitamin A – one form that is most readily absorbed in the body is known as retinol, which is found in liver, eggs, and milk. Retinoids (including retinol) have many important and diverse functions throughout the body including roles in vision, regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation, growth of bone tissue, immune function, and activation of tumor suppressor genes.  These functions are especially important with respect to pregnancy and childbirth, infancy, childhood growth, night vision, red blood cell production, and resistance to infectious disease.1

Another way for the body to get the vitamin A it needs it to convert pro-vitamin A carotenoids like beta carotene to retinol. Beta carotene is found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables including carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and cantaloupe.  The carotenoid form of vitamin A also provides unique health benefits. Most carotenoid forms of vitamin A function as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients. There are two forms of carotenoids that play a specific role in eye health which are known as the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin.2 Foods such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard are sources of foods that contain both forms of carotenoid for optimal eye health.1 Eggs provide small amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin and research shows these nutrients in eggs may be more bioavailable (better utilized by the body) than that from sources with higher content including supplements.2

While vitamin A provides the body with many benefits, it’s important to remind clients that too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. Vitamin A is fat soluble which means the body stores it most often in the liver. This also means that vitamin A can build up to toxic levels in the body. This rarely happens from food sources because, if the body builds up supplies of vitamin A, it will slow down the conversion of beta carotene. Vitamin A toxicity usually occurs when people take too much in supplement or pill form. Toxic levels can cause liver problems, central nervous system problems, deterioration of bone density, and birth defects.4  Below is a chart that outlines the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A as well as the upper limits.3

RDA   for Preformed Vitamin A (Retinol)

Age Males: mcg/day (IU/day) Females: mcg/day (IU/day)
0-6 months 400 (1,333 IU) 400 (1,333 IU)
7-12 months 500 (1,667 IU) 500 (1,667 IU)
1-3 years 300 (1,000 IU) 300 (1,000 IU)
4-8 years 400 (1,333 IU) 400 (1,333 IU)
9-13 years 600 (2,000 IU) 600 (2,000 IU)
14-18 years 900 (3,000 IU) 700 (2,333 IU)
19 years and older 900 (3,000 IU) 700 (2,333 IU)
Pregnancy (18 years  and   younger) 750 (2,500 IU)
Pregnancy (19 years and older) 770 (2,567 IU)
Breastfeeding (18 years and younger 1,200 (4,000 IU)
Breastfeeding (19 years and older) 1,300 (4,333 IU)

 

Tolerable Upper Intake Level   (UL) for Preformed Vitamin A (Retinol)

Age Group UL in mcg/day (IU/day)
Infants 0-12 months 600 (2,000 IU)
Children 1-3 years 600 (2,000 IU)
Children 4-8 years 900 (3,000 IU)
Children 9-13 years 1,700 (5,667 IU)
Adolescents 14-18 years 2,800 (9,333 IU)
Adults 19 years and older 3,000 (10,000 IU)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, eggs contain the retinoid form of vitamin A and in fact, butter, cheese, and eggs are among the top 10 sources of vitamin A for U.S. adults.  Carrots, tomatoes, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes are also found in the top 10 pro vitamin A-containing foods in the U.S.4Try this recipe that perfectly pairs eggs with kale and sweet potatoes and get all the benefits vitamin A provides.

Eggs over Kale and Sweet Potato Grits

Servings: 4
Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 cups fresh kale, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • ¾ cup grits, quick cooking
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  • Step 1: Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 4 individual soufflé dishes (or 2-quart casserole dish) with 1 tsp. vegetable oil. Make 3-4 slits in sweet potato; cook in microwave until just soft. When cool enough to handle, peel, cut into chunks, and puree in a food processor.
  • Step 2: Heat remaining vegetable oil in sauce pan, and sauté kale about 5 minutes. In a medium sauce pan, boil water and milk, add grits and sweet potatoes; cook 5 minutes
  • Step 3: Remove from heat; stir in sautéed kale. Divide grits mixture evening among 4 soufflé dishes (or place all in casserole dish). Make 4 depressions in the grits mixture with the back of a large spoon. Carefully break one egg into each hollow. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until eggs are cooked. Let cool 10 minutes before serving

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 280; Total fat: 9g; Saturated fat: 2g; Protein: 12g; Carbohydrates: 38g; Cholesterol: 185g; Dietary Fiber 4g; Sodium: 410mg

Each serving provides: An excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, folate, phosphorus, and iodine, and a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium

References

1)       Evert, A. (2013, February 18). Vitamin a: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002400.html

2)       Goodrow EF, et al. Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations.JN 2006; 136(25):19-24.

3)       Higdon, J. (2007, November). Vitamin a: Micronutrient information center. Retrieved fromhttp://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminA/index.html

4)       USDA Database of Vitamin A (mcg RAE) and Vitamin E (mg AT) for National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2000. 2006. Beltsville, MD: Agricultural Research Service, Food Surveys Research Group.

I’ll Take My Folate…Sunny Side Up

Jim-House-150x150Today’s post is from James House, Ph.D. Dr. House is studying the relationship between water soluble vitamin nutrition, the metabolism of amino acids, and how they relate to optimal growth and health of individuals. He also maintains a strong focus towards the development of functional foods of animal origin.  He is also a member of ENC’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP).

Folate (folic acid, vitamin B9) is a water soluble B vitamin, traditionally associated with the consumption of green, leafy vegetables.  However, since the late 1990’s, several jurisdictions, including the US and Canada, have mandated the inclusion of synthetic folic acid into enriched white flour, as well as other cereal-based foods.  The main reason for this population health initiative was to effect a reduction in the number of babies born with a neural tube defect (NTD).  Evidence is accumulating that the initiative, combined with strong campaigns to encourage folic acid supplement usage by women of child bearing age, has been effective in reducing the occurrence and recurrence of NTDs.  However, the folic acid fortification strategy is not without its concerns.  The recent surge in the demand for gluten-free foods, coupled with a demand for foods lower in refined carbohydrates, challenges the usefulness of enriched wheat flour as the fortification vehicle.

_S Generic Eggs in Wooden Dish E2307

Eggs, on the other hand, are good sources of protein, naturally gluten-free, and contain little in the way of carbohydrate.  Furthermore, one large egg can supply 10% of the Daily Value for folate.  This value can be increased approximately 250%, up to 60 µg per egg, by increasing the synthetic folic acid content of the laying hen diet.  The hen converts the relatively inexpensive and synthetic form of folic acid in her diet to the more metabolically active form, called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate – this is the major circulating form of folate in the human bloodstream.  Previous research has documented that the folate found in egg is highly available (>100% relative to folic acid), in comparison to plant-based folates (generally <50%).  Therefore, folate-enriched eggs offer an additional food-based vehicle for the addition of this important water-soluble vitamin to the human food supply.  Beyond folate, other opportunities exist for egg fortification, including recent work examining the potential to enrich eggs with vitamins D and B12.

 

Beneficial Vitamin B6

salad

There are many reasons to consume adequate amounts of B6 in your diet. Like the rest of the B-complex vitamins, B6 is water soluble and cannot be stored by your body, so it’s important to replenish your body’s supply of the vitamin on a daily basis to reap its many health benefits, including:

  • Greater supply of energy – B6 also helps the body make hemoglobin, the part of your blood that carries energy-boosting oxygen to the brain and other organs.
  • Increased brain function – All of the vitamins in the B-complex family have benefits for the brain, but B6 is especially important for regulating mood and preventing mental fatigue. This water-soluble vitamin is needed for the brain to produce serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter that relaxes you and lifts your spirits.

The current RDAs throughout the lifespan are captured below. In general recommendations for adult men and women are 1.3 milligrams per day.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin B6

Life Stage  Age 

Males (mg/day) 

Females (mg/day) 

Infants 0-6 months

0.1 (AI)

0.1 (AI)

Infants 7-12 months

 0.3 (AI)

0.3 (AI)

Children 1-3 years

0.5

0.5

Children 4-8 years

0.6

0.6

Children 9-13 years

1.0

1.0

Adolescents 14-18 years

1.3

1.2

Adults 19-50 years

1.3

1.3

Adults 51 years and older

1.7

1.5

Pregnancy all ages

1.9

Breast-feeding all ages

2.0

Fortunately, there are many foods that you can eat in order to make sure that your body is getting enough vitamin B6. Major sources of vitamin B6 include cereal grains, legumes, vegetables (carrots, spinach, peas, and potatoes), milk, cheese, eggs, fish, liver, meat, and flour 1. In fact, one egg provides 0.05 mg or 3.8% DV of vitamin B6.  Add some chicken and chickpeas to the tomato and avocado egg salad recipe below for a fresh and nutritious meal brimming with B6 (and many other important nutrients) 2.

Tomato & Avocado Egg Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley OR cilantro
  • Spinach OR lettuce leaves
  • Dressing:
    • 2 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce

Directions:

  • Mix dressing ingredients in small bowl
  • Reserve and refrigerate 6 center slices from eggs for garnish. Chop remaining eggs
  • Combine chopped eggs, avocados, tomato, onion and parsley in large bowl; toss gently to mix. Add dressing; stir gently just until ingredients are evenly coated with dressing
  • Refrigerate at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Serve on spinach leaves, garnished with reserved egg slices

 

References:

1)      Mayo Clinic. N.p., 1 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 June 2013. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-b6/NS_patient-b6>.

2)      Office of Dietary Supplements . N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2013. < http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional />.

Focus on Thiamine

san

The benefits of thiamine (or thiamin), a water soluble vitamin also known as Vitamin B1, are often overlooked despite the nutrient’s importance in bodily function. Thiamin is one of the essential nutrients the body must have to convert carbohydrates  into energy, making it beneficial when the body is trying to combat stress. It also plays a crucial role in conducting nerve impulses and muscle contraction, and is therefore essential to keep the heart, muscles, and nervous system functioning as a whole.1 Last but not least, it’s important to note that thiamine aids in the flow of electrolytes in and out of nerve and muscle cells; multiple enzyme processes; and the production of hydrochloric acid which is necessary for proper digestion. 2

The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults aged 19 years and older is 1.2 milligrams daily for males and 1.1 milligrams daily for females. The RDA for pregnant or breastfeeding women of any age is 1.4 milligrams daily.1 The importance of thiamine becomes most apparent when examining consequences of deficiency. Thiamine is not stored in the body and therefore can become depleted quickly– typically within 14 days. Beriberi, a severe chronic thiamine deficiency, can result in potentially serious complications, including poor or diminished growth in muscle and nerve tissues.

Fortunately, thiamine is widely available in a variety of foods and deficiencies are therefore typically rare in developed countries. Good sources of thiamine include whole grains, enriched wheat, brown rice, seafood, lean pork, liver, and nuts. Most fruits and vegetables also contain thiamine. When talking to patients, it is important to note that thiamine is often lost in foods after cooking or processing. Remind clients of the proper methods for preparing vegetables so they do not lose vital nutrients due to overcooking. When cooking vegetables, it is best to only add a small amount of water and keep the lid on the pan to preserve vitamins and other nutrients.

A small amount of thiamine is available in eggs, so pair them with other good sources such as milk, oats, and whole grains to contribute to adequate intake levels.  For a healthy dose of thiamine try the below creative twist on a summer favorite.

Scrambled Eggs, Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. milk OR water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tsp. butter OR olive oil, divided
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 6 fresh basil leaves or ¼ tsp. dried basil leaves

Directions

  • Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in bowl until blended
  • HEAT 1 tsp. butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. POUR IN egg mixture. As eggs begin to set, GENTLY PULL the eggs across the pan with an inverted turner, forming large soft curds. Continue cooking-pulling, lifting and folding eggs – until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly. REMOVE from pan. Clean Skillet
  • SPREAD remaining 2 tsp. butter evenly on one side of each bread slice (or brush lightly with oil). PLACE 2 slices in skillet, buttered side down. TOP evenly with scrambled eggs, cheese, tomato and basil. COVER with remaining bread, buttered side up.
  • GRILL sandwiches over medium heat, turning once, until bread is toasted and cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes

Per Serving

Excellent Source: Protein, Calcium and Choline

Good Source: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Folate and Iron

Calories: 359; Total Fat: 18g; Saturated fat: 9g; Polyunsaturated fat: 2g; Monounsaturated fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 218mg; Sodium: 492mg; Carbohydrates: 26g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Protein: 22g; Vitamin A: 951.7IU; Vitamin D: 47.6IU; Folate: 60.8mcg; Calcium: 317.8mg; Iron: 2.4mg; Choline: 150.4mg

References:

1)        Mayo Clinic. (2012, September 1). Thiamine (vitamin b1). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vitamin-b1/NS_patient-thiamin (accessed June 10, 2013)

2)         Nestle, M. (2001). Beriberi, white rice, and vitamin b: A disease, a cause, and a cure (review.Bulletin of the History of Medicine , 75(2), Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/bulletin_of_the_history_of_medicine/v075/75.2nestle.html (accessed June 8, 2013)

3)        Web MD. (2009). Thiamine (vitamin b1) . Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-965-THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1).aspx?activeIngredientId=965&activeIngredientName=THIAMINE (VITAMIN B1)(accessed June 11,2013)