February is National Hot Breakfast Month. And while chilly February is the perfect time to start your morning with something warm, there are benefits to eating a cooked breakfast year-round. Like all home-cooking, homemade breakfasts are likely to be healthier than any prepared food you could buy at the coffee shop near your office. And while it can be hard to find the time to cook in the morning, there are plenty of things you can make in a few minutes. Making time to prepare them can make your morning a more pleasant experience. (more…)
Over the years we’ve all seen a lot of flip-flops in nutrition… good… bad…then good again… and we’ve all heard the frustration, ‘Will they just make up their mind already?!!’
In the end, the truth about a food is never turns out as simple as good or bad. I’ve learned that if I can’t say what is both good and bad about something, I don’t know enough yet.
How and when a food is good/bad depends on how much and how often you eat it, who you are, what conditions you have, what medications you take, and what else you eat.
I’ve also found it’s important to remind myself that a food is always more than one thing: milk is more than calcium, coffee is more than caffeine, eggs are more than cholesterol. Eggs are also important sources of protein, choline, lutein and zeaxanthin.
So let’s see where we are on the topic of eggs, a frequent flyer for flip flopping facts!
Pregnant women should not avoid eggs out of concern for allergy prevention in the baby. It doesn’t help and may hurt since choline plays critical role in fetal brain development and risk of neural tube defects, 2-4 times more risk of NTD if choline levels are low.
Eggs and other common allergen foods no longer need to be delayed in infant diets. While they still shouldn’t be “first foods” they can start between ages 4 to 6 months with usual texture progression and observed for reactions. J Allergy Clin Immunol: In Practice, Vol 1 (1), 29-36. 2013.
Breast Cancer Prevention?
Emerging research is finding 18-44% less risk of breast cancer with higher egg intake. One study found 44% less risk eating ≥ 6 vs. ≤2 eggs a week. The most critical periods to benefit from eggs seem to be prenatally and during adolescence. In animal studies, choline appears to program genes in utero to resist breast cancer later in life. Choline is also anti-inflammatory.
Cardiovascular Disease: The American Heart Association no longer puts a specific limit on eggs. They now say 1 egg a day can fit as long as other sources of cholesterol are limited.
- Good evidence that up to 7 eggs a week is ok and does not increase risk of heart disease except for people with diabetes. Over 7 eggs a week did increase CVD risk, 23% in non-diabetics but 2-fold risk in people with diabetes. Check out USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library at www.nel.gov.
- Eggs can be enhanced with 35 to 350mg omega-3 fat per egg, about two-thirds of this is ALA.
Cholesterol: People are different; there is a 2 to 3 fold difference in how much cholesterol people absorb, how much they make, and how they respond to changes in dietary cholesterol.
- Most cholesterol is made by our bodies, 11 to 13 mg/kg/day, so we make about 4-6 ‘eggs’ worth of cholesterol a day all on our own. (Squawk!) This is also why weight loss helps lower cholesterol levels about “a point a pound.”
- Most people make less when they eat more and see little to no change in blood levels. But 15-20% of people are hyper-responders. Their LDL will go up about 3 mg/dl per 100mg dietary cholesterol instead of <1mg/dl. So when these people eat 500mg cholesterol a day, their LDL goes up 15mg/dl.
- Everybody’s LDL levels are less responsive to dietary cholesterol when diet is low in saturated fat and more responsive when diet is high in saturated fat. Same with trans fat.
- Eggs are unique; they are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat. When eggs are eaten both LDL and HDL increase so the LDL:HDL ratio stays about the same. Remember LDL by “L” for Lousy Litter bug, the Lower the better and HDL by “H” for Healthy, Higher the better, or as I call it, “Hoover DeLuxe” J
Dieting: emerging evidence that “An egg a day keeps the appetite away”.
Eating an egg has a high satiety value, especially with breakfast. Eggs don’t cause weight loss on their own, but they may help people stick with a lower calorie diet and lose up to twice as much weight with 1 egg 5 days a week. They’ve also found that the egg yolk is important to the satiety effect, not just the protein.
Eyes and arteries? Lutein/zeaxanthin are yellow carotenoid ‘cousins’ found in the yolk in a highly bioavailable form—an egg a day can raise blood levels 26/38%. They also settle in eyes and block UV and blue light, protecting eyesight against cataracts and macular degeneration.
- 60% less risk of cataracts with higher egg intake (Beaver Dam Eye Study, 1999)
- 80% less thickening of carotid arteries with higher blood levels of lutein/zeaxanthin (Los Angeles Atherosclerosis study, 2001)
Eggs can be made even higher in lutein/zeaxanthin by feeding hens marigolds, corn, etc. Eggland’s best® eggs are ~40% higher than ordinary eggs (200 vs. 145 mcg per egg).
- Eggs are quick, easy, versatile, and cheap, only 12 to 25 cents each.
- Ready-to-eat peeled boiled eggs now in stores!
- Eggs are the gold standard for high quality protein.
- Egg safety is still important, check out www.eggsafety.org
- Egg yolks are the highest food source of choline, established as an essential nutrient in 1998 by the IOM. Only 10% of people have Adequate Intakes: 425/450/550 mg for women/pregnant/lactating and 550mg for men. Eggs have 125 mg choline per yolk. Choline is also in liver, beef, pork, poultry, salmon, shrimp, beans/legumes, milk, soy milk, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels’ sprouts.
Good-bye…for now! Hope you’ve all enjoyed our ‘egg-cellent’ adventure. 🙂