5 Ways To Build An Egg Bowl

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5 Ways To Build An Egg Bowl

Nutrients in Eggs

Nutritious Dietary Patterns


Here’s a common dilemma I hear from many folks: You want to prepare and eat a nutritious meal, but picking out and cooking a recipe takes too much time and energy. Don’t reach for the take-out app just yet. If you’re overwhelmed with recipes, I have the ultimate solution for you– a no-recipe egg bowl formula. It’s a simple blueprint to help whip up a satisfying meal on the fly without any recipe reading. 

Here’s the simple formula to get you on your way to lunch or dinner success:

1 to 2 cups of veggies + ½ cup of whole grains + 1 large egg + 1 tablespoon sauce. 

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 2½ cups of vegetables per day, and this egg bowl helps you meet those recommendations. Start by picking out your favorite veggie(s) and build the bowl from there. If you opt for more than one vegetable, try to eat different colors for a variety of nutrients. 

Next, add a whole grain. MyPlate recommends filling a quarter of your plate with a grain. Whole grains provide fiber and protein, two nutrients that contribute to satiety, as well as heart health and muscle growth. There are a ton of tasty and affordable whole grain options to choose from, such as brown rice, farro, oats, bulgur, barley and more. 

Your bowl already has some protein, vitamins and minerals, but top it with an egg to add even more nutrition. Eggs naturally provide many essential nutrients, such as Vitamin B12, biotin, iodine, selenium, choline, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and protein. Not to mention that they are one of the only foods that naturally have Vitamin D, which along with calcium, is critical for building strong bones. Eggs are also an important part of a plant-forward diet, especially since they aid in the absorption of nutrients found in plant foods, such as vitamin E and carotenoids. 

What’s more, eggs contain important nutrients for brain health, including choline and lutein. Choline is critical for brain development during pregnancy and infancy, but approximately 90% of pregnant women don’t get enough of this essential nutrient. Two large eggs supply more than half of the recommended intake for pregnant women and can help them meet their needs. Lutein has long been associated with eye health and emerging research shows lutein may also play a role in cognition too. 

Lastly, don’t forget to add a sauce to your egg bowl for flavor and even more nutrients. Opt for sauces made with healthy oils, vegetables, beans and/or legumes. If you need a little inspiration, make sure you check out the five simple egg bowl suggestions below.

  • Fall Harvest Egg Bowl: oven-roasted Brussels sprouts & cauliflower + wheatberries + over easy egg + balsamic vinaigrette
  • Pesto Egg Bowl: oven-roasted crispy broccoli & sun-dried tomatoes + farro + poached egg + pesto
  • Mexican Egg Bowl: fresh shredded purple cabbage & corn + brown rice + fried egg + salsa
  • Green Tahini Egg Bowl: fresh kale & shelled edamame + quinoa + sunny side up egg + tahini sauce (whisk together 1 tablespoon of tahini, a pinch of salt and a splash of water)
  • Mediterranean bowl: fresh cherry tomatoes & sliced cucumber & olives + lentils + hard boiled egg + hummus

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Protein Foods from a Variety of Sources Contribute to Nutrient Adequacy

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Protein Foods from a Variety of Sources Contribute to Nutrient Adequacy

Mickey Rubin, PhD

Nutrients in Eggs

Featured article in the Fall 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Mickey Rubin, PhD

There has been considerable debate recently around the topic of protein quality, particularly regarding the best way to measure protein quality1 as well as the relative importance of dietary protein quality as it relates to important health outcomes, such as muscle loss with aging.2

While this discussion is important and will no doubt continue as research in this area evolves and new measures for protein quality are developed,3 less attention is often given to the important contribution of protein foods to overall nutrient adequacy. Commonly consumed protein foods contribute to nutrient intake, diet quality, and nutrient adequacy, independent from their contributions to total protein intake.4

Protein foods provide important micronutrient diversity. Foods within the protein foods group provide B vitamins (e.g., niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and riboflavin), selenium, choline, phosphorus, zinc, copper, vitamin D, and vitamin E just to name a few.5

For example, meats provide the most zinc, while poultry provides the most niacin.5 Seafood provides the omega-3’s eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Eggs provide the most choline of any commonly consumed protein food, while nuts and seeds provide vitamin E, and soy and legumes are sources of copper, manganese and iron.5 Indeed, if we focus just on the protein that is provided by the protein foods group, we are missing the larger picture of what these foods contribute to healthy diet patterns.


Nutrient-Dense Eggs Make Important Contributions to the Diets of Americans of All Ages

Eggs are a prime example of a protein food that should be just as appreciated for their micronutrient contribution to healthy eating patterns as they are for their macronutrient contribution. Analysis of NHANES 2003-2012 reveals that in adults ≥19 years, whole egg consumption is associated with a higher likelihood of meeting or exceeding recommendations for several micronutrients, including nutrients identified by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines as Nutrients of Public Health Concern such as vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Egg consumption is also associated with higher likelihood of meeting the recommendations for other underconsumed nutrients such as choline.6 Importantly, egg consumption was not associated with serum total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol in this analysis.

In fact, several lipid related risk factors were improved with higher egg consumption, including triglycerides, the triglyceride to HDL-cholesterol ratio, and the total cholesterol to HDL-C ratio.6 NHANES data in infants and toddlers ages 6-24 months revealed that those who consume eggs have greater intakes of choline, lutein + zeaxanthin, α -linolenic acid, DHA, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. Egg consuming infants and toddlers also had higher intakes of total fat, monounsaturated fat, saturated fat, and sodium, but also lower added sugar and total sugar compared to non-consumers of eggs. Importantly, egg consumption in infants was associated with longer recumbent length when compared to nonconsumers of eggs.7

Findings in children and adolescents ages 2-18 years showed a similar story, revealing those who consume eggs have greater intakes of protein, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and total fat, α-linolenic acid, DHA, choline, lutein + zeaxanthin, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium compared to non-egg consumers.8


Plant vs. Animal or Plant and Animal?

Perhaps all too often the nutrition conversation regarding protein foods has turned to a debate between animal and plant protein sources. However, both animal and plant protein sources provide essential nutrients that are important for healthy dietary patterns. The emphasis away from animal source protein foods is generally evidenced by the association of some of these foods with cardiovascular risk, although randomized controlled studies show that nutrient-dense diets containing animal protein can improve cardiovascular disease risk factors,9 and animal source foods like eggs may have nutrients important for other outcomes such as neurocognitive development.10

The 2015–2020 DGA recommends adopting healthy eating patterns that contain a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products. A recent editorial by Dr. Wayne Campbell of Purdue University uniquely captured the idea that eating protein foods does not have to be an either or proposition, stating that “debates pitting meats against protein-rich plant foods seem less useful to consumers than helping both omnivores and vegetarians understand the health properties of the foods they choose to consume and educating them to include a variety of suitable protein-rich foods within healthy eating patterns.”11

  1. Katz, DL, et al., Perspective: The Public Health Case for Modernizing the Definition of Protein Quality. Adv Nutr, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

  2. Phillips, SM, Current Concepts and Unresolved Questions in Dietary Protein Requirements and Supplements in Adults. Front Nutr, 2017. 4: p. 13.

  3. Wolfe, RR, et al., Protein quality as determined by the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score: evaluation of factors underlying the calculation. Nutr Rev, 2016. 74(9): p. 584-99.

  4. Phillips, SM, et al., Commonly consumed protein foods contribute to nutrient intake, diet quality, and nutrient adequacy. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015. 101(6): p. 1346s-1352s.

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2015;8:[Available from: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/].

  6. Melough, MM, et al., Association of eggs with dietary nutrient adequacy and cardiovascular risk factors

  7. Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL 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).

  8. Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL 3rd. Egg Consumption in U.S. Children is Associated with Greater Daily Nutrient Intakes, including Protein, Lutein + Zeaxanthin, Choline, α-Linolenic Acid, and Docosahexanoic Acid. Nutrients. 2019;11(5).

  9. Petersen KS, et al. Healthy Dietary Patterns for Preventing Cardiometabolic Disease: The Role of Plant-Based Foods and Animal Products. Curr Dev Nutr, 2017;1(12).

  10. Wallace, TC., A Comprehensive Review of Eggs, Choline, and Lutein on Cognition Across the Life-span. J Am Coll Nutr, 2018. 37(4): p. 269-285.

  11. Campbell, WW, Animal-based and plant-based protein-rich foods and cardiovascular health: a complex conundrum. Am J Clin Nutr, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

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Choline – The Underconsumed and Underappreciated Essential Nutrient

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Choline – The Underconsumed and Underappreciated Essential Nutrient

Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN

Nutrients in Eggs

Featured article in the Winter 2019 Issue of Nutrition Close-Up; written by Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN

“Recognition of the growing evidence relating inadequate intakes to health consequences coupled with evidence of suboptimal intakes in high-risk populations, warrants a need for improved public health recommendations for choline” was the consensus of more than 40 experts attending the 2018 Choline Science Summit, whose findings were summarized recently in a feature article in the journal Nutrition Today.1

Choline’s role in human health begins prenatally and extends into adulthood and old age.2 Its functions are complex and include, but are not limited to, neurotransmitter synthesis, cell membrane signaling, lipid transport and methyl group metabolism. Choline has been recognized as an essential nutrient in the U.S. and Canada since 1998; it has long been established that deficiency results in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Choline’s function and recognition among health professionals regarding cogniti on across the lifespan has only recently gained momentum. Humans can produce small amounts of choline but must consume the nutrient through the diet to prevent deficiency.2
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently affirmed choline as a key nutrient to support neurodevelopment during the first 1000 days postconception.3 Adequate maternal choline intake has been shown to help the baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly.1 Additional research has shown that choline eases the baby’s response to stress and enhances nutrient transfer across the placenta to the developing fetus.4,5 Importantly, lactation increases the maternal choline requirement.2

Higher maternal intake of choline results in lasting beneficial cognitive effects that become more pronounced with aging in both animal and human models. Results of a recent randomized controlled trial reveal benefits of higher maternal choline intake on child attention, memory and problem solving that may last into the school-age years.1,6 Choline intake throughout adulthood may also help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline,7 however these findings are predominately based on observational studies or animal-models and more research is needed.

Analysis from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicates that the majority of the U.S. population is not consuming sufficient choline to meet recommended intakes. The daily value for choline is 550 mg per day, however estimated mean daily intake is approximately 319 mg per day.8 It is difficult to get enough choline without consuming eggs or taking a dietary supplement and therefore, it’s not surprising that 90% of Americans and 92% of pregnant women do not achieve current recommended intakes for choline.8,9

The bottom line – health professionals need to be aware of food sources of choline and while data indicate a need for Americans to increase plant-foods in the diet, this should not mean eliminating nutrient dense animal-derived foods such as eggs that contain higher levels of choline. Health professionals should strongly consider the recommendations from the American Medical Association (AMA) and AAP, as well as the recent scientific literature summarized in this recently published report. Dietary guidance that helps all individuals meet current choline recommendations is critical for the health and wellbeing of all individuals.

  1. Wallace, TC, et al. Choline: The Underconsumed and Underappreciated Essential Nutrient. Nutr. Today. 2018; 53: 240–253.

  2. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Ribofl avin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. (National Academy Press, 1998).

  3. Schwarzenberg, SJ and M.K Georgieff . Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics. 2018; 141: e20173716.

  4. Jiang, X, et al. Maternal choline intake alters the epigenetic state of fetal cortisol-regulating genes in humans. FASEB J.2012; 26: 3563–3574.

  5. Jiang, X, et al. Choline inadequacy impairs trophoblast function and vascularization in cultured human placental trophoblasts. J. Cell. Physiol. 2014; 229: 1016–1027.

  6. Caudill, MA, et al. Maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy improves infant information processing speed: a randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding study. FASEB J. Off . Publ. Fed. Am. Soc. Exp. Biol. 2018; 32: 2172-2180.

  7. Blusztajn, JK, et al. Neuroprotective Actions of Dietary Choline. Nutrients.2017; 9.

  8. Wallace, TC and V.L. Fulgoni. Usual Choline Intakes Are Associated with Eggand Protein Food Consumption in the United States. Nutrients. 2017; 9.

  9. Wallace, TC and V.L. Fulgoni, 3rd. Assessment of Total Choline Intakes in the United States. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 2016; 35: 108–112.

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