Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Dietary patterns (also called eating patterns) are the combinations and quantities of food and beverages consumed over time. Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a plant-based dietary pattern is more health-promoting than the current average U.S. diet. However, a “plant-based” eating patterns doesn’t mean only plants; pairing high-quality protein foods, like eggs, with plants is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for achieving optimal vitamin and mineral intakes.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three healthy eating patterns, all of which include eggs. But what are the sample eating patterns, and what are the key differences between them?

To learn more about healthy eating patterns, including those recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, and how eggs fit within those patterns, explore the following PowerPoint, and feel free to share it with friends!

Healthy Eating Patterns: How do Eggs Fit?

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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 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).

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.

Nutritious Comfort Food

Winter Comfort Food - Jessica Ivey Feb 2019 Blog Photo

By Jessica Ivey, RDN

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

 

This time of year, I crave classic comfort foods and hearty, rich dishes to satisfy body and soul. Many of these dishes are not especially nutrient-rich, but with a few upgrades, you can enjoy crave-worthy winter fare with more nutrition in each bite. Continue reading “Nutritious Comfort Food”

Sustainable Nutrition for Women and Children: Eggs as Part of the Global Solution

Sustainable Nutrition

Featured article in the Winter 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Jen Houchins, PhD, RD

Inadequate nutrition is responsible for stunted growth in approximately 25% of children worldwide and the cause of nearly half of deaths in children under five years of age. In the context of the global focus to end hunger and ensure access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, a recent Maternal and Child Nutrition supplement explores a unique opportunity to address stunting and malnutrition through improved access to and increased consumption of eggs. As stated by Lutter, “…eggs in the context of a healthy diet may be an efficient, sustainable, and scalable approach to improve maternal and child nutrition and rural development.”1 Continue reading “Sustainable Nutrition for Women and Children: Eggs as Part of the Global Solution”