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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National Egg Salad Week

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One would think I’d be tired of eggs by now but, the funny thing is I’m not. In fact, I kind of tired of chicken but because eggs are so versatile, they can be used in so many ways without repeating the same preparation. I love to read recipes that aren’t too complicated and suggest ways to use leftovers in creatively. One such list of recipes can be found athttp://www.dietsinreview.com/diet_column/04/5-ways-to-use-leftover-easter-eggs/ which offers suggestions about ways to use the leftover eggs from Easter egg celebrations. How brilliant that every Easter is followed by National Egg Salad Week! Even better, that this works for the leftover eggs from Passover as well.

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.

 

 

 

Health and Nutrition Down Under

I recently returned from a vacation in Sydney, Australia where as a dietitian/foodie I enjoyed studying the many culinary similarities we share with people so far away. I was drawn to articles in almost all publications from the most local community newsletter to the biggest city newspaper that discussed nutrition and it’s relation to health. It definitely seems Australians are as interested in fitness and health as Americans seem to be, although there seems to be less regulation on claims that foods and advertisements can make about their products.

Supermarkets seem to be screaming with products that claim to be packed with nutrients that insure health, although I’m not sure how a consumer can know which claims have scientific substantiation and which are marketing. I purchased eggs which were not refrigerated because I’m assuming they vaccinate their hens to prevent the growth of Salmonella. The variety of eggs available is dumbfounding. There were many free range eggs and others that were caged but the ones that I purchased were from a producer called “Happy Hens” egg farm. I found it interesting that these eggs specify that they are naturally grain fed eggs and are locally produced in Victoria and carry the National Heart Foundation approved check or tick “because they are a nutritious food”.  I can’t imagine how anyone has the time or interest to weigh the pros and cons of all those issues before choosing which eggs to purchase. I suspect that most consumers like me looked at the price and at $4.75/doz decided these lowest cost eggs were the best choice. I wonder if this is an example of getting what we wish for.

Do we really want the burden of deciphering an arm’s length of different claims on all our food before we purchase the most basic pantry items? I’m also wondering how consumers can prioritize which nutrition claims are the most important and which are less important for health?

~Marcia

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

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.

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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.