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.

Protein and Breakfast

Like most registered dietitians, I struggle to keep up with scientific developments. So much is controversial and hard to discern the effects of independent variables. I attended the “Great Debate” held years ago at USDA in Washington D.C. where the high carbohydrate diet pattern and the low carbohydrate diet pattern were hotly debated. Poor Dr. Atkins who saw the value of a lower carbohydrate intake in his patients was ridiculed for not having published his clinical findings. However, when the successful findings supporting a low carbohydrate intake began to be published doubters still doubted the findings. I think he was on the right track but the real story is low carbohydrate, high quality protein.

It is easy to feel comfortable supporting the benefits of a high protein breakfast. Susan Dopart in her blog suggests that eating a strong protein breakfast within an hour of waking up can increase your metabolic rate, lower insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugar for the rest of the day. One thing I know from personal experience is that eating an adequate amount of high quality protein at breakfast keeps me from being hungry much longer than the bagel or cereal breakfast I had been consuming daily.

This is very useful when I am traveling for business or exhibiting at conferences and can’t be sure when I will be able to take a lunch break. I am not insulin resistant but have a family history of diabetes and I can feel when my glucose levels are low. High quality protein like that in eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt is my way of keeping an even temper and focus on my activities and preventing myself from eating too many calories or undesirable foods that lack nutrients. This was also demonstrated by researchers at University of Connecticut in a study of  “Eating protein-rich eggs for breakfast reduces hunger and decreases calorie consumption at lunch and throughout the day” published in the February 2010 issue of Nutrition Research. Researchers found that men who consumed an egg-based breakfast ate significantly fewer calories when offered an unlimited lunch buffet compared to when they ate a carbohydrate-rich bagel breakfast of equal calories. Ratliff, J., Leite, J.O., de Ogburn, R., Puglisi, M.J., VanHeest, J., Fernandez, M.L. (2010) Consuming  eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutrition Research, 30, 96-103.

I think it’s time to move on from the high carbohydrate dogma that dietitians were trained to promote and see the value of high quality protein especially at breakfast both for the satiety it provides and the muscle synthesis signaling that helps maintain muscle mass.

How do you like your eggs? Perfectly cooked!

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

~ Marcia

I love eggs. I adore eating eat them. And as a registered dietitian and mom of three, I feel great about feeding them to my children. Most of all, I love how easy it is to cook a perfect egg.

Since my kitchen is often full of chaos, I count it as a small victory when perfectly cooked eggs emerge from the fray. Cooking perfectly creamy, satiny scrambled eggs is simple, as long as they are patiently cooked low (heat) and slow. The trick to a perfectly poached egg is a tablespoon of vinegar in the poaching water. Even custardy egg en cocottes (baked eggs) are now easy thanks to Julia Child’s video. However, preparing the perfect hardboiled egg has always eluded me; until now.

Thanks to my recent placement on the Egg Nutrition Center’s Registered Dietitian Advisory board, I was sent a press release containing simple instructions for perfect Easter eggs. Reading it was an “Ah-Ha Moment!” Finally, the elusive trick to perfectly cooked hardboiled egg: Don’t boil them! After years of boiling my eggs five minutes, then three minutes then one minute, I learned the secret to a hardboiled egg is to only bring the water to a boil and then immediately cover it and turn off the heat. (Boiling them will leave a green ring around the yolk and make whites tough.) In fact, the Incredible Egg folks don’t even call them hardboiled eggs, they call them hard-cooked eggs. Here are the three steps to perfect hard-cooked eggs:

  1. Place eggs in a single layer in a pan; add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. (Eggs that have sat in your refrigerator for a week – instead of fresh from the store – are easier to peel in the end.)
  2. Over high heat, bring to a full rolling boil where large bubbles break the surface of the water. (No, it’s not true that a ‘watched pot never boils;’ so go ahead and keep your eye on it.) Immediately remove from heat, cover pan, and set the timer for 15 minutes for large eggs (longer for extra large eggs).
  3. Use kitchen tongs or a slotted spoon to remove eggs and place in a bowl of ice cold water to chill. Crack, peel and eat or place in the refrigerator to enjoy later.

If you prefer not to sit and watch the pot boil, you can try this ingenious (but time-consuming) recipe for Slow Cooker Hardboiled eggs.

Or, if you like recipes in say, 140 characters or less, try this reci-tweet) for hard-cooked eggs: “To hard-cook eggs, just bring to boil, turn off heat & keep in covered pot for 15 min. Then cool in ice water” For more reci-tweets and helpful egg tips, join me, @TspCurry and @IncredibleEggs for a Twitter Party on April 20 at 8:00 p.m. CT.

Lastly, here’s a photo of one of my kids enjoying a favorite egg recipe from my own childhood. Here’s the recipe for silky smooth Egg Custard.

Serena Ball, MS, RD is Partner at Teaspoon Communications and the egg cook for her husband and three children in Chicago.

 

 

 

Free Range, Organic, Conventional and Everything In Between

Some many choices, so little time to research the facts. That’s often the conundrum the average shopper finds themselves in these days. We all want the best for our families, but what does “best” really mean? With respect to eggs, producers offer variety to consumers in the form of organic eggs and cage free eggs, among other choices. But is one type of egg really healthier than another? A quick primer on these issues may help:

To be considered organic, eggs must meet a set of national standards developed by the National Organic Standard Board. Organic eggs are produced by hens given feed without pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers. The use of hormones or antibiotics is also prohibited in birds that provide organic eggs. The rub is that commercial egg producers do not use hormones or antibiotics routinely anyway. So non-organic eggs are pretty much as “untainted” as their organic cousins. Further, non-organic eggs are every bit as nutritious as organic eggs.

Cage free eggs come from hens living in indoor floor facilities. These hens do not necessarily have access to the outdoors. While some folks prefer eggs produced by cage free birds because they feel these hens live more humanely, the fact of the matter is that modern cages are designed with the bird’s welfare in mind. In the hen house, birds are more readily protected from the elements, from diseases, and from natural and unnatural predators. The diet of the caged bird is also more well controlled, leading to the production of eggs of unmatched nutritional quality. Research has continually shown that the eggs produced by caged hens are at least as nutritious, if not more so, than eggs from birds that eat a less controlled diet. And, it should be pointed out that mortality rates are higher in hens living in cage free environments.

– Mitch

Give Eggs the Company they Deserve

When observing focus groups around the country which included physicians, nurses, dietitians and personal trainers it was interesting to see how these health professionals viewed eggs and dietary cholesterol.  Most health professionals felt eggs were a healthy food choice especially compared to available alternatives. In fact, it was often heard that eggs got a bad rap and they did not feel that the food deserved to be the icon of indulgence. What we heard is that eggs offered many valuable nutrients lacking in their patient’s diets and suggested an egg is a better choice than sweetened cereals, breakfast bars or donuts. What concerned most health professionals were what other foods people choose to eat with eggs. They generally agreed that eggs need to choose new friends and could be considered healthy if they weren’t accompanied by the saturated fat and sodium found in other breakfast foods. This striking misperception is often exemplified in restaurant menus that list egg white omelets accompanied by high fat and high sodium bacon or sausage with white toast as the healthy choice, giving the impression that egg yolks are the unhealthy element.

In fact, scientific research has shown that the egg yolk supplies about 40% of the high quality protein in an egg important for muscle building and retaining muscle especially when aging or losing weight. The yolk is also known as a naturally good source of vitamin D, lutein and choline, all nutrients that are needed for health. What makes eggs especially healthy is that they can be a great vehicle for eating vegetables and whole grains that supply many other important nutrients making an egg breakfast done right a great way to start the day. To me, the recent research that showed eating eggs at breakfast did indeed keep one satisfied for longer than an isocaloric bagel breakfast confirmed that eggs at breakfast is the healthiest choice to make.

~ Marcia

New USDA Analysis: Egg are 14% Lower in Cholesterol

There are many who think our food supply is unhealthy and getting more so. But, according to new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition data, www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata many of our naturally produced foods are actually healthier than during our parent’s childhood. Beef and pork cuts are leaner, lower fat choices of milk and cheese are widely available and now the egg, already low in saturated fat, has been found to be lower in dietary cholesterol and qualifies as a good source of vitamin D. The USDA recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs, and results show the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, 14 percent lower than previously recorded.   The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of Vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent.

This is wonderful news, since for a long time public health organizations have been continuing to advise people to restrict their dietary cholesterol based on old, less sophisticated research techniques than those used by scientists today. Unlike most countries around the globe who have looked at the science and decided that the evidence is lacking to continue to confuse people with guidance which restricts dietary cholesterol , the US continues to include a 300mg dietary cholesterol restriction in its dietary guidelines. The good news is that it is so much easier to include the many beneficial nutrients that an egg supplies in your diet daily without having to consider your dietary cholesterol intake. Unless of course, you often consume foods containing a great deal of solid fats and added sugar which unlike eggs and seafood that are naturally low in unhealthful fats and added sugars, can complicate your heart disease risk.  One look at the nutrition facts panel, and it’s easy to see why eating an egg daily is a healthy practice that our grandparents understood and valued.

-Marcia