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Eggs 101

Eggs sometimes get a bad rap. And to make it more confusing, at any given time we don't know whether they are good or bad for us!

Below are some GOOD things about eggs, for all of us.

Eggs are an all-natural source of high-quality protein and a number of other nutrients, all for 70 calories per large egg. Cost-effective and versatile, the unique nutritional composition of eggs can help meet a variety of nutrient needs of children through older adults.

Plus, eggs can play a role in weight management, muscle strength, healthy pregnancy, brain function, eye health and more.

COGNITION - Two important nutrients for brain health and cognition are found in eggs: choline and lutein. Choline plays a role in early brain development during pregnancy and infancy, particularly in areas of the brain that are used for memory and learning. Lutein has long been associated with eye health but research has discovered lutein’s role in cognition as well.

CARDIO METABOLIC HEALTH - Cardiometabolic health is a relatively new term that encompasses cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Collectively, such conditions are the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. They all share similar risk factors (e.g., overweight/obesity, elevated blood pressure) which can be modified by diet and lifestyle choices. The available evidence indicates that eggs, when consumed as part of an overall healthy diet pattern, do not affect risk factors for cardiometabolic disease. Recent recommendations from the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and American Diabetes Association do not limit egg or cholesterol intake, a change from earlier guidance from these organizations.

PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE - Nutrition is an important aspect in athletic performance. Download these shareable videos, graphics, handouts and recipes to help promote the power of protein and eggs.

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT & SATIETY - Obesity is a multi-factorial and complex health issue. Current guidance for weight management encourages physical activity along with consuming an overall healthy eating pattern which includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat and fat-free dairy products. A growing body of research suggests that dietary protein, specifically, can help promote satiety, facilitating weight loss when consumed as part of reduced energy diets.

Several clinical trials have specifically assessed the effects of high-quality protein from eggs on satiety and weight loss.

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.

NUTRIENTS IN EGGS - Eggs are a nutrient goldmine!

One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, all for 70 calories.

While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, the majority of an egg’s nutrient package is found in the yolk. Nutrients such as:

• Vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

• Choline, essential for normal functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.

• Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

EGG ALLERGIES - An average of two percent of the population under age five develops an egg allergy. However, most children outgrow their egg allergy by late childhood.

Despite the allergenicity of foods such as eggs, experts do not encourage avoiding these foods when introducing solids to infants. According to the 2016 National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine food allergy report, there may be “benefits of introducing allergenic foods in the first year of life to infants when a child is developmentally ready: around 6 months of age, and not before 4 months.” This is based on studies showing a possible decrease in the development of food allergies when food allergens are introduced at 4 to 6 months of age. This advice is consistent with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

EGGS ACROSS THE LIFESPAN - Eggs contain a number of nutrients that are essential throughout the lifespan:

• High-quality protein contains building blocks needed to support healthy bones and muscles. Research suggests that exercise, along with optimal protein intake, can slow the effects of sarcopenia or chronic age-related muscle loss.

• Choline is essential for normal liver function and brain health. It is especially important during pregnancy to support normal fetal growth and development, and most pregnant women do not consume adequate amounts of choline. Consuming eggs during pregnancy is one solution to choline consumption issues.

• Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

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