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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An Egg A Day is OK

Most of you have probably seen or heard some of the highlights of the recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines. With respect to healthy meal patterning, the Guidelines heavily stressed the inclusion of nutrient dense foods in the diets- foods that give you lots of nutrients, and not a lot of calories – foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and eggs. The Guidelines also indicate that we should de-emphasize the use of solid fats (mainly saturated and trans fats), simple sugars, refined grains and sodium. Nothing earth-shattering here, but a good reminder that the “4 S’s” (solid fats; starches; sugars; salt) can wreak havoc on our diet and our health if eaten in excess.

dietary-guidelines-for-americans-2010

From an Egg Nutrition Center perspective, we were heartened to see that the Guidelines, for the first time, actually indicate that eating an egg-a-day is OK. No doubt that this was an acknowledgment that eggs are a great source of high quality protein, and a great nutrient dense food.  Likely factoring into this conclusion as well were studies such as those by Qureshi et al (Med Sci Monitor. 2007; 13:CR1-8)   which indicated that regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke or cardiovascular diseases; and Lee et al. (Brit Nutr Found 2006; 31:21-27) which indicate that eating eggs daily does not have significant impact on blood cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Often overlooked by the public, the Dietary Guidelines offer a treasure trove of good information about diet, health and nutrition in easy-to-understand language. If you’re interested, you can access the Guidelines via this link: 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

 It’s worth a look-see.

2010 Dietary Guidelines: Focus on Nutrient Density

According to Monday’s announcement of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, proper balance is the key to a healthy diet.  The Guidelines point out that many Americans consume less than optimal intake of certain nutrients even though they have adequate resources for a healthy diet. The Guidelines also recommend that Americans focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

Though the concept of “nutrient density” is either new or misunderstood by many consumers, it’s basically a term that speaks to the amount of good, solid nutrition you can pack into a food for the fewest calories possible. And eating highly nutritious, lower calorie foods (i.e., nutrient dense foods) can have obvious implications for promoting weight control and good health.  A “poster child” for nutrient density is the egg. Try to think of a natural food product besides the egg that packs so much nutrition- -13 vitamins and minerals and 7 gms of high quality protein, into a 70 calorie package. I’ll bet you can’t do it.  So it’s no accident that the recent Guidelines call out eggs in a number of instances as an example of a good nutrient dense food. Coupled with the fact that an egg costs only about $0.15 per serving, it’s understandable to think why the egg should be considered one of our most “efficient” foods (efficient calorically/nutritionally; efficient economically!).

So how can you bring a little more nutrient density into you own diet?  An easy fix is to substitute an egg in the morning (70 kcals) for (the admittedly more convenient) Pop Tart (210 kcals; 8 gms fat; 13 gms sugar). Another would be to replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats (e.g.-certain cuts of meat) with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories   (e.g.-fish, chicken, eggs).

Obviously there is a bit of individuality in how we can bring a little more “nutrient density” into our lives. However you choose to do it, focus on foods that will give you the most “bang-for-your buck” nutritionally; foods low in calories that are highly nutritious. They do exist. You just may have to search a bit!

-Mitch

2010 Dietary Guidelines: Focus on High Quality Protein

On January 31st, the USDA and HHS presented the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and thereby upheld their Congressionally mandated responsibility to provide science-based nutritional and dietary guidance to the general public in a document that serves as the foundation for federal nutrition education and promotion programs. This was the first time the dietary guidelines were based on an evidence based body of scientific knowledge, reviewed by an elite group of scientific advisors, and written to suggest best practices for the many stakeholders that produce and deliver food to the American public. This is no small task and those who participated should be widely commended.

A main focus of the guidance is to consume nutrient dense foods. Nutrient density, possibly an unfortunate term, defines a food by its nutrient content for the amount of calories it provides. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals should “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed” and “replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats”. Choosing foods that supply high quality protein with minimal solid or unhealthful fats would be an example of nutrient density. If seafood and fish were plentiful and affordable it would be easy to “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed” as recommended. Milk, meat, poultry, and eggs in addition to seafood supply high quality protein along with many valuable nutrients in natural combinations that have supported life on earth and allowed mankind to evolve. Therefore, for optimal health it is important to vary lean protein foods including lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds to get a full complement of all the needed nutrients.

Although the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are correct in stressing the importance of incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into the American diet, it is still important to remember that high quality protein foods supply many nutrients such as heme iron, vitamin B12, calcium and zinc which are in short supply in fruits/vegetables and whole grains. If there are foods to be avoided, I would suggest the grain based desserts (pie, pastry, granola bars) which from the tables and charts within the guidance document appear to supply substantial amounts of both solid fats and added sugar without a sufficient nutrient balance.

– Marcia

Another Welcome to Nutrition Over Easy!

Welcome to Nutrition Over Easy, a new blog where seasoned health and nutrition professionals will give their perspective on current nutrition issues of the day. My name is Marcia Greenblum, and – in addition to being a Registered Dietitian for 30 years – I am the Senior Director of Nutrition Education at ENC. My role is to communicate somewhat complex scientific research findings into language that is understandable and actionable. A large part of my role is to monitor developments in the field of nutrition including food and health trends, government policy and regulations, research conclusions or misunderstandings and bring that information to health practitioners. The health practitioner; dietitian, nurse practitioner, physician or physician assistant, is often asked to offer dietary guidance and I try to supply the information they need and clear up misperceptions especially concerning foods like eggs. It is my hope that no one is given inappropriate advice or told to avoid foods that are natural sources of healthy nutrients and everyone is able to make informed choices.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting on Nutrition Over Easy about many different topics, including:

Nutrition in context: How to fit recent scientific findings into a long term healthy diet and lifestyle. What makes sense and what seems like a passing fad, what are the risks vs. the benefits of adhering to certain dietary patterns? I’ll offer the perspective of someone who has participated in experimental research, clinical practice, academia and industry in addition to raising 3 children while working full time.

In addition to enjoying scientific meetings and healthcare professional conferences both for my role with ENC and for professional development, I have always enjoyed cooking and felt comforted when involved with food and its preparation. My husband and I travel extensively and enjoy exploring the best in traditional cuisine as well as the latest in restaurant innovation.

I’m excited to be a contributor to this blog, and I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions!

Welcome to Nutrition Over Easy!

Greetings and welcome to the Egg Nutrition Center’s brand new blog Nutrition Over Easy. My name is Mitch Kanter, and I am the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. Over the coming weeks, months and (hopefully!) years, this blog will be a growing resource aimed at providing credible information on nutrition topics and related scientific developments and research.

First a little about the Egg Nutrition Center (ENC) and my role: ENC has been in existence for almost 30 years, and is funded by egg producers from across the United States. The mission of ENC is to serve as a credible resource of nutrition and health information, and as the undisputed leader in research and nutrition information related to eggs. ENC funds more than $1 million dollars per year in nutrition science research, and in 2011 we have earmarked almost $2 million dollars for research. We work with leading researchers at many of the top academic institutions in the U.S.

My role at ENC is to oversee the research and education programs that we develop and disseminate. With a great staff of seasoned health professionals on board, two external technical advisory boards at our disposal, as well as access to the various researchers with whom we collaborate, overseeing our programs is an enjoyable, educational and rewarding experience. Not only do I learn something new almost every day, I also get the opportunity to travel the country to attend and speak at scientific and lay meetings and conferences on a regular basis.

When I’m not working at ENC I enjoy spending time with my family (my wife, 3 kids, a dog and a rabbit!). We’re an active family and we enjoy participating in and watching most any sport. Living in Minnesota that generally means hockey for my kids, though they also participate in soccer, baseball, basketball and whatever else seems to be in season at the moment.

Along with my colleagues and future guests, I am very excited to be a contributor to this blog, and I look forward to getting to know many of you!

Take care for now.

Mitch

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Egg Nutrition Center
Park Ridge, Illinois