For School Success, Start the Day with an Egg

Scientific studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast can result in better memory, improved mood and less absences from school. Too often, however, kids miss out on important nutrients from their morning meal, such as protein.

“If you just have cereal or a muffin in the morning, a big burst of glucose goes into the bloodstream quickly, but it disappears quickly,” said Dr. Robert Murray, pediatrician and professor of nutrition at the Ohio State University and consultant to the American Egg Board. “What you don’t want is to push children in the late morning to learn new things when their blood sugar is low.”

Eggs have longtime been a breakfast staple and experts agree that starting the day with nutrient-rich foods, such as eggs, can give students the fuel they need to feel energized throughout the day and important nutrients to succeed in school.

Breakfast boost

With six grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids, a single large egg is a nutritional powerhouse, Murray said. Eating one first thing in the morning, he said, is a great way to keep children feeling full until lunch.

“A single large egg is a
nutritional powerhouse.”

“There are a number of things we’re trying to make breakfast do for kids. One is to give them immediate energy and begin fueling the brain. The other is to make the energy continue, so kids can feel satiated and be able to draw on that energy even a few hours after a meal,” Murray said. “The high-quality protein in eggs really drags that energy out over a long period of time and gives kids a sense of well-being.”

“Nutrition isn’t just about providing energy for kids,” said Dr. Tia Rains, executive director of the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center. “It’s also about supplying nutrients they need to learn.”

“Nutrients provide the essential building blocks that play a critical role in optimizing brain function. Eggs contain 13 essential nutrients, plus two compounds associated with cognition: choline and lutein. Both are related to optimal brain function,” Rains said.

One large egg contains 147 milligrams of choline, an important nutrient involved in memory, mood and learning. Eggs also contain lutein, which plays an important role in brain function for infants and toddlers.

“You want to have good nutrition in order to optimize brain function, not just in terms of thinking but also in terms of your attitude and approach toward thinking. That’s absolutely crucial for kids in school,” Murray said.

A versatile food

At under $0.20 each, eggs are one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein available. They’re also easily incorporated into a variety of nutritious breakfast dishes.

“Some fun ways to eat eggs include egg muffin frittatas — these can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave for a quick breakfast. You can also make breakfast tacos or burritos, cloud eggs or breakfast flatbreads,” Rains said.

Crucially, Murray said, eggs are a great “foundation food,” meaning they can be simply mixed with foods from the other food groups to create tremendous nutritional benefits. Omelets, for instance, are an easy way to add vegetables to breakfast. Research shows that pairing eggs with vegetables helps increase the absorption of important nutrients such as vitamin E.

“With a breakfast that makes full use of those opportunities,” Murray said, “students have a better chance of achieving their educational goals. With really good nutrition and reasonable physical activity throughout the day, we can put a better student in the chair.”