Articles

Whole Eggs Uniquely Support Muscle Health

Featured article in the Spring 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD

Healthy strong muscles are important throughout the lifespan. Resistance training and sufficient dietary protein help support muscle maintenance and strength. Research has shown the importance of both the total amount of protein consumed each day as well as the amount of protein per meal. However, emerging research is showing other factors within food, besides protein, influence the synthesis of new proteins in muscle.

Over the past several years, scientists have examined how amino acids and isolated sources of protein impact muscle protein synthesis. This research serves as a foundation to better examine aspects beyond protein. Leucine, an essential amino acid, turns on the machinery driving the synthesis of new proteins in muscle. While leucine is the switch turning this process on, all essential amino acids are necessary to provide the building blocks for muscle protein synthesis to be running optimally. Quality sources of protein including whey, egg, soy and beef contain all essential amino acids in appreciable quantities to support this process. Yet studies comparing protein-rich drinks and whole foods have led to results that cannot be explained by differences in leucine or the amount of high quality protein consumed. Continue reading “Whole Eggs Uniquely Support Muscle Health”

Incorporating Eggs into a Plant-Based Diet

Featured article in the Spring 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

If you ask two different people to define “plant-based eating,” you will likely get two different responses. Because this term isn’t defined by any governing body, it’s up for interpretation. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) says that plant-based diets include vegetarian and vegan diets1, while U.S. News & World Report describes plant-based diets “as an approach that emphasizes minimally processed foods from plants, with modest amounts of fish, lean meat and low-fat dairy, and red meat only sparingly”2. Regardless of the definition, the common denominator among all descriptions of a plant-based diet is, well, plants!

The rise in popularity of plant-based diets is accompanied by many health benefits. Research suggests that eating mostly plants can prevent obesity3, decrease the risk of developing diabetes4, and lower mortality rates5. Plant-based diets are also associated with lower rates of heart disease6 and cancer7. The majority of these studies observed vegetarian diet patterns, which include plenty of fruits, vegetables and meatless proteins, like eggs, dairy, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy. In other words, plants were paired with protein sources, like eggs, to make a nutritious and well rounded meal. Eggs can and should be part of a plant-based diet, and these five suggestions showcase how easy it is to incorporate the incredible egg into your plant-forward dishes. Continue reading “Incorporating Eggs into a Plant-Based Diet”

Research News: Choline, Lutein, and Cognition

Featured article in the Spring 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Maggie Moon, MS, RD

Health is not just the absence of disease, but the presence of optimal wellness. Though nutritional guidance historically focused on preventing deficiency and toxicity from nutrients, today there is a growing interest in leveraging nutrients to improve the “healthspan,” or years of life in good health.

Time is of the essence to apply this to neuronutrition. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia is expected to more than double by 2050 from today’s 5.7 million to nearly 14 million.1 Worldwide, today’s 50 million people with dementia will more than triple by 2050, according to the World Health Organization.2
Lutein and choline are among the most underconsumed and underappreciated nutrients emerging into the spotlight for brain health and cognition. Recent research highlights their potential
for preventing and improving cognitive decline. Continue reading “Research News: Choline, Lutein, and Cognition”

Infant complementary feeding: how do eggs fit?

As mandated by the Agricultural Act of 2014, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) will include dietary guidance for infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age, as well as pregnant women.  Scientific questions being examined by the current DGA Advisory Committee include recommendations for complementary foods and beverages, dietary patterns, as well as the mother’s diet during pregnancy.  Evaluation of how specific foods help to build healthy dietary patterns is a component of these reviews.  Recent evidence supports that eggs are a nutrient-dense component of early eating patterns, and introducing eggs in the first year of life (>4 months) may reduce the risk of developing a food allergy to eggs.

Previous recommendations from health organizations1 included guidance to avoid early introduction of eggs.  However, more recent data show that introduction of eggs after four to six months does not increase the risk of allergy.  A recent USDA/Department of Health and Human Services literature review evaluated complementary foods in relation to food allergy.  Twenty-eight studies that examined consumption of eggs as a complementary food in relation to development of any atopic disease was one component of this extensive review.2  The conclusion statement summarized, “Moderate evidence suggests that introducing egg in the first year of life (>4 months of age) may reduce risk of food allergy to egg.”  Although more research is needed to fill gaps related to complementary foods and beverages and allergy, these most recent data support that eggs should not be avoided once a child is developmentally ready to eat them.

Another recent analysis found that consumption of eggs in infants 6-24 months of age is associated with intake of several nutrients.3  Based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2012 data, egg consumption in infants 6-24 months of age was linked with higher energy, protein, choline, lutein + zeaxanthin, α-linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium.  Infants who ate eggs also consumed higher levels of total fat, monounsaturated fat, saturated fat, and sodium, and lower amounts of total sugar compared to infants who did not eat eggs.  Further, egg consumption in infants was linked to longer recumbent length compared to non-consumers and not associated with body weight.

These observations build on the evidence that the nutrients in eggs are important for growing children.  Emerging evidence shows that both choline and lutein are critical for brain and neurological development during the first 1000 days post-conception,4 and a recent paper found it is difficult to achieve the Adequate Intake for choline without eating eggs or taking a dietary supplement.5   These nutrient intake observations in infants also demonstrate that a total-diet approach is important.  Eggs are one food within healthy dietary patterns and there is opportunity to offer children other nutrient-dense foods in combination with eggs to meet all nutrient needs.  Please see our First 1000 Days toolkit for more information.

  1. Zeiger, R.S., Food allergen avoidance in the prevention of food allergy in infants and children. Pediatrics, 2003. 111(6 Pt 3): p. 1662-71.
  2. Obbagy, J.E., et al., Complementary feeding and food allergy, atopic dermatitis/eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr, 2019. 109(Supplement_7): p. 890s-934s.
  3. Papanikolaou, Y. and V.L. Fulgoni, 3rd, Egg Consumption in Infants is Associated with Longer Recumbent Length and Greater Intake of Several Nutrients Essential in Growth and Development. Nutrients, 2018. 10(6).
  4. Wallace, T.C., A Comprehensive Review of Eggs, Choline, and Lutein on Cognition Across the Life-span. J Am Coll Nutr, 2018. 37(4): p. 269-285.
  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).

 

5 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Eggs

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