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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Pairing Eggs with Vegetables in a Plant-Based Diet

By Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN

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

A plant-based diet can be used to describe a variety of eating styles, ranging from vegan to vegetarian, plus diets that include relatively larger amounts of plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and relatively smaller amounts of animal products.

It’s important to note that a plant-based eating pattern doesn’t necessarily mean “plant-only.” Eggs are the perfect complement for just about any eating pattern. Pairing eggs with plant-based foods can help your body absorb more of the nutrients found in these foods, including Vitamin E and carotenoids, and can help meet daily protein requirements to support healthy muscles and strong bones. Eggs are themselves naturally nutrient rich with a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients, including 6 grams of high-quality protein per large egg. Additionally, eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D (41 IU per large egg), which along with calcium, is critical for bone health. For pregnant and lactating women, eggs are one of the best sources of choline, an essential nutrient necessary for fetal brain development and brain function. Many of the nutrients, including Vitamin D, choline, and the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, are found in the yolk, so be sure to enjoy the whole egg for the biggest nutrient boost.

Many seasonal fall vegetables can be paired with eggs for a balanced and complete meal.

Sheet Pan Meals

Fall is the perfect time to utilize your oven for making simple sheet pan meals with fewer dishes to wash. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of hearty root vegetables, like sweet potatoes, and vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli can serve as a base for baked eggs. Try this Eggs and Veggie Sheet Pan Dinner using cauliflower for a seasonal twist on an easy weeknight meal this fall.

Put an Egg on It

Top just about any seasonal plant-based dish with an egg to add a source of high-quality protein. Sweet Potato “Toast” with Poached Eggs is a fun spin on classic eggs and toast that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you’re feeling adventurous, try this flavorful Korean Bibimbap with fall sweet potatoes and riced cauliflower. Pizzas and flatbreads, like this Wild Mushroom Flatbread with Poached Eggs, pair well with a poached or baked egg.

Baking with Eggs

Eggs serve many different roles in baking, including acting as a binder and adding richness to casseroles, like this Winter Squash Casserole and adding structure and volume to souffles, like this Pumpkin Souffle.

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, Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Food as Lifestyle Medicine

Featured article in the Fall 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN, LDN

Disease prevention is the key when it comes to living a longer, healthier life. Lifestyle medicine, which focuses on prevention rather than treatment of chronic diseases, is gaining momentum. The World Health Organization estimates that, by 2020, two-thirds of all diseases will be a result of lifestyle factors.1 The good news is that chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, could be avoided through the adoption of healthy lifestyle recommendations.2 Healthful eating is one of the main interventions in lifestyle medicine – along with active living, healthy weight and emotional resilience – the ability to handle adverse situations and bounce back to your baseline state of health.2 Therefore, recognizing that a nourishing, healthy eating pattern is a vital part of disease prevention and supports an active, healthy and happy life is essential.

Affordability is Key to Healthy Eating Around the World

By: Jen Houchins, PhD

Research continues to show the value of nutrient-dense animal sourced foods as part of healthy eating patterns in the U.S. and around the world.  On World Egg Day, we highlight the incredible, nutrient-dense egg as part of a global solution to inadequate nutrition, and consider new insights of challenges of consuming healthy diets both globally and within the U.S.

Eggs: A Perfect Ingredient for Powerful Produce Pairings

Featured article in the Fall 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND and Lauren Simin

Too often, nutrition discussions emphasize single nutrients or foods. Focusing on recipes, meals, and dietary patterns are better approaches for ensuring nutrient needs are met. It is also essential to ensure recommendations focus on flavor and enjoyment. This is especially true when making recommendations to motivate people to choose foods from under-consumed categories like vegetables. Dietary intake data show overall vegetable intake is below the recommended intake for more than 80 percent of Americans.1

5 Surprising ways to use eggs

By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

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

Surprise! Eggs aren’t just for breakfast and brunch. They also make a tasty and nutritious addition to basically any meal of the day. Since eggs are so affordable, versatile and easy to prepare, you might as well stock up and add them to your daily menu. If you need a little inspiration to think outside the box (or egg carton), this list of surprising uses for eggs is here to help. All of these suggestions are equal parts unique and delicious.

1. Add eggs to a salad

Whether you like your eggs hard boiled or poached, they make a great addition to a salad. Not only do eggs taste great when paired with veggies, but recent ENC-sponsored research has found that eggs can help you absorb nutrients found in plant foods such as vitamin E and carotenoids when they are paired with a salad1. Specifically, the researchers concluded that vitamin E absorption was 4- to 7-fold higher when three whole eggs were tossed into a salad. This research reinforces a 2015 ENC-sponsored study, which found that the absorption of carotenoids – including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene – was 3- to 8-fold higher when the salad had three eggs2

2. Put an egg on pizza

Pizza is a family favorite, but it can often be lacking in quality protein. Topping a veggie pizza with an egg is a fantastic way to add more protein to the meal. A large egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein, and it tastes great with veggies and cheese. Make a quick flatbread pizza with an egg on top if you’re in a hurry or an Egg and Mushroom pizza for a crowd-pleasing dinner. 

3. Top a pasta dish with eggs

Only have 10 minutes to make a meal? With a pot of boiling water, some frozen veggies and a few eggs, you can have a nutritious homemade meal. Throw together some whole grain pasta, cooked veggies, garlic and olive oil and top it all with a few eggs. Not only do the eggs add a nice creaminess to the dish, but they have two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are important for brain and eye health. 

4. Make savory oatmeal

This hearty breakfast food is usually paired with fruit and other sweet toppings, but it also makes a great base for savory foods. Switch up your oatmeal routine with new toppings, like veggies, eggs, cheese and a little hot sauce (if you’re daring). It will almost feel like you’re eating your favorite grain bowl for breakfast. 

5. Whip up Shakshuka

Pronounced ‘shock-shoe-kah’, this tomato egg skillet is a traditional Mediterranean dish. It’s made with a combination of poached eggs in a tomato-based sauce with chilis and onions. It’s so incredibly easy to make in one skillet, yet it comes off as elegant and complicated. Serve it with a chunk of fresh bread to sop up the delicious combination of egg yolk and tomato sauce. 


  1. Kim JE, Ferruzzi MG, Campbell WW. Egg Consumption Increases Vitamin E Absorption from Co-Consumed Raw Mixed Vegetables in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr. 2016;146:2199-2205.
  2. Kim JE, Gordon SL, Ferruzzi MG, et al. Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102:75-83.