Eggs and Heart Health: A “hot topic” update for health professionals

Eggs and Heart Health: A “hot topic” update for health professionals

JEN HOUCHINS, PHD, RD

Cardiometabolic Health

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

In 2013, after decades of research, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology published a new guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk which concluded, “There is insufficient evidence to determine whether lowering dietary cholesterol reduces LDL-cholesterol1.”  This was followed by the removal of the 300 mg per day cholesterol restriction within the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and a greater focus on overall healthy dietary patterns2.  Today, eggs are recommended as part of heathy eating patterns by both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association3,4.  Yet, many people, including health professionals, remain concerned about dietary cholesterol5.

In a new article published in Hot Topics in Primary Care, a special supplement to the Journal of Family Practice, Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez highlights recent research around eggs and cardiovascular health and highlights the evolution of science around the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol6.  While the science is clear that elevated LDL-cholesterol increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, the impact of dietary cholesterol and egg intake is not straightforward.  For most people, egg consumption does not impact blood cholesterol levels.  For those whose blood cholesterol responds to dietary cholesterol, generally there is an increase in both LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol, leaving the ratio between the two unchanged. The ratio of LDL to HDL is recognized as an important indicator of cardiovascular disease risk7.

Further, if there is a change in blood cholesterol secondary to egg consumption, the lipoproteins generated tend to be large, less atherogenic LDL particles that are “preferentially removed by [the] liver rather than by endothelial cells.”  The HDL particles generated secondary to egg consumption have improved functionality and a larger surface area which can transport a higher concentration of carotenoids6.  Overall, these exciting data illustrate that science has moved far beyond looking at the impact of isolated dietary cholesterol on total blood cholesterol, and instead, we are now evaluating the impact of foods (i.e.eggs) on health outcomes.

Most recent publications demonstrate egg consumption is not associated with cardiovascular disease risk8-10, and that is the basis for current guidelines that recommend eggs across the lifespan.  It is important to recognize the benefits of eggs within the diet and their role in optimizing health.  Dr. Fernandez lists several protective effects of eggs6:

  • Generation of HDL-cholesterol with improved function11,12
  • Highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids known to accumulate in the eye and reduce risk of age-related macular degeneration13
  • An excellent source of choline, which is essential for brain health
  • High quality protein for maintenance of health

While the American Heart Association identifies a research gap for people who have abnormal blood lipids4, a growing body of evidence demonstrates eggs can be beneficial even for people at risk of cardiovascular disease11,14,15.  Of course, an overall healthy diet pattern is essential for maintenance of health3,4. For meal inspiration, check out our collection of heart-healthy recipes.

 

Photo by Sara Haas, RDN.

  1. Eckel, R.H., et al., 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, 2014. 129(25 Suppl 2): p. S76-99.

  2. 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/].

  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2020; Available from: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf.

  4. Carson, J.A.S., et al., Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2019: p. Cir0000000000000743.

  5. Ipsos, American Egg Board Nutrition Messaging Project. 2021.

  6. Fernandez, M.L., The Role of Eggs in Healthy Diets. Supplement to the Journal of Family Practice, 2022. 71(6): p. S71-S75.

  7. Blesso, C.N. and M.L. Fernandez, Dietary Cholesterol, Serum Lipids, and Heart Disease: Are Eggs Working for or Against You? Nutrients, 2018. 10(4).

  8. Drouin-Chartier, J.P., et al., Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: three large prospective US cohort studies, systematic review, and updated meta-analysis. Bmj, 2020. 368: p. m513.

  9. Dehghan, M., et al., Association of egg intake with blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in 177,000 people in 50 countries. Am J Clin Nutr, 2020.

  10. Shin, J.Y., et al., Egg consumption in relation to risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr, 2013. 98(1): p. 146-59.

  11. Sawrey-Kubicek, L., et al., Whole egg consumption compared with yolk-free egg increases the cholesterol efflux capacity of high-density lipoproteins in overweight, postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr, 2019.

  12. Andersen, C.J., et al., Egg consumption modulates HDL lipid composition and increases the cholesterol-accepting capacity of serum in metabolic syndrome. Lipids, 2013. 48(6): p. 557-67.

  13. Johnson, E.J., Role of lutein and zeaxanthin in visual and cognitive function throughout the lifespan. Nutr Rev, 2014. 72(9): p. 605-12.

  14. Njike, V.Y., et al., Egg Consumption in the Context of Plant-Based Diets and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition, 2021. 151(12): p. 3651-3660.

  15. Thomas, M.S., et al., Eggs Improve Plasma Biomarkers in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome Following a Plant-Based Diet-A Randomized Crossover Study.
    Nutrients, 2022.14(10).

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Egg Design Contest

2023 Egg Design Submission Call

2023 Egg Design Submission Call

Presented by America’s Egg Farmers

For over 40 years, the First Lady of the United States is presented with a beautifully decorated Commemorative Easter Egg by America’s egg farmers to celebrate Easter. To mark the 2022 Easter season, all 40 eggs presented to past First Ladies were displayed in a special exhibit.

During the 2023 Easter season, a new exhibit will feature decorated eggs from each U.S. state/territory designed by kids across the country. We are calling on parents with kids aged 5-18 to design an egg under the theme of “United States of Possibility” that represents their home U.S. state or territory.

The American Egg Board selection committee will review all submissions and select one egg design per state/territory. Selected winners will be notified by March 10, 2023, and selected egg designs will be created by egg artists across the country for the special exhibit.

 

United States of Possibility Theme - How to Get Your Child Started

Each U.S. state and territory is special. From the mountain ranges of Washington to farmlands of Iowa to beaches in Florida, our different locations combined make up a diverse and united country and give us a special sense of local and national pride. So how can our differences contribute to the future of the United States?

This is the United States of Possibility. What role will your individual state or territory play in the next 5, 10 or 15 years? What are some special aspects that you think will contribute to our country’s unity? We’re looking for egg designs that show how your state/territory might make a difference in the future of our country. Consider your home’s unique natural resources, scientific and technological inventions or cultural developments in the arts, sports or film. Then put it into an egg design…

Here are some questions to ask your child when thinking about their egg design:

  • What is the thing I love most about my state or territory?
  • What makes my state/territory unique?
  • What makes my state’s/territory’s citizens different?
  • And how can any of these things contribute to the unity of our country in the future?

Submit Your Child’s Egg Design Entry

Download the submission form below and use the template provided to have your child create their own egg design and corresponding design inspiration statement explaining your child’s vision behind the idea. Encourage your child to embrace their personal artistic style, using any medium of choice. Art should be your child’s original creation.

Fully complete the uploaded submission form, including your contact information and your child/artist’s name before uploading. All submissions are due to the portal below by 11:59:59 PM EST on Saturday, December 31, 2022. Parents of selected egg design submissions will be notified by March 10, 2023.

2023 Egg Design Submission Call

2023 White House Egg Design Submission Contest Rules

For full rules and terms and conditions for entering this contest opportunity with American Egg Board, please visit www.incredibleegg.org/unitedstatesofpossibility/rules.

Growing evidence supports eggs as a beneficial addition to healthy diets, even for people who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease

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Growing evidence supports eggs as a beneficial addition to healthy diets, even for people who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease

Jen Houchins, PhD, RD

Cardiometabolic Health

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

The American Heart Association (AHA) Science Advisory: Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk indicates that “healthy individuals can include up to a whole egg or equivalent daily” as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern.  “For older normocholesterolemic patients, given the nutritional benefits and convenience of eggs, consumption of up to 2 eggs per day is acceptable within the context of a heart-healthy dietary pattern1.”  The AHA expresses caution, however, around the consumption of dietary cholesterol for patients with dyslipidemia, suggesting a gap in research for a subgroup of the population at risk for cardiovascular disease.  Of importance, a growing body of evidence indicates that eating eggs as part of a healthy diet does not negatively impact blood cholesterol levels and may benefit health, even in people at risk for cardiovascular disease2-5.

A recent randomized controlled crossover intervention recruited 30 men and women aged 35-70 with metabolic syndrome (MetS) to follow a plant-based healthy diet (excluding meat, poultry, fish, and seafood) for 13 weeks.  Participants were randomized to eat spinach with two eggs for breakfast or spinach with egg substitute and then crossed over to the opposite intervention.  The data showed lower body weight and higher HDL cholesterol after the egg intervention compared to the substitute.  No differences were observed in plasma LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, or blood pressure.  Blood levels of choline were higher after the egg intervention compared to the substitute; lutein increased during both interventions, and zeaxanthin increased only after the egg intervention.  The authors conclude, “This study demonstrates that consuming whole eggs in combination with a plant-based diet offers a healthier dietary pattern when compared to egg substitutes by favorably affecting plasma lipids and antioxidant carotenoids, as well as choline, thereby reducing disease risk3.”

Importantly, this is also consistent with other studies that have similarly found a beneficial impact of including eggs in the diet:

  • Thirty-five adults at risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus included two eggs daily in the context of a plant-based (vegan) diet for six weeks. Eating eggs improved diet quality without adversely impacting cardiometabolic risk factors when compared to egg exclusion4,6.
  • Twenty overweight, postmenopausal women added two whole eggs to the diet for four weeks. This study found improvement in HDL function (cholesterol efflux capacity) with no other changes in lipid biomarkers when compared to eating egg whites only5.

While more research is always needed, these recent intervention studies support the value of eggs as part of healthy dietary patterns for everyone, regardless of cardiovascular disease risk status.  For heart-healthy recipe ideas, please see our collection of recipes here.

  1. Carson, J.A.S., et al., Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2019: p. Cir0000000000000743.
  2. DiBella, M., et al., Choline Intake as Supplement or as a Component of Eggs Increases Plasma Choline and Reduces Interleukin-6 without Modifying Plasma Cholesterol in Participants with Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients, 2020. 12(10).
  3. Thomas, M.S., et al., Eggs Improve Plasma Biomarkers in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome Following a Plant-Based Diet-A Randomized Crossover Study. Nutrients, 2022. 14(10).
  4. Njike, V.Y., et al., Egg Consumption in the Context of Plant-Based Diets and Diet Quality in Adults at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Single Blind Cross-over Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Nutrition Association, 2022: p. 1-10.
  5. Sawrey-Kubicek, L., et al., Whole egg consumption compared with yolk-free egg increases the cholesterol efflux capacity of high-density lipoproteins in overweight, postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr, 2019.
  6. Njike, V.Y., et al., Egg Consumption in the Context of Plant-Based Diets and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition, 2021. 151(12): p. 3651-3660.

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Nutritious Comfort Food

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Nutritious Comfort Food

Jessica Ivey, RDN

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN to write this blog post.


Crave-worthy comfort foods and hearty, rich dishes may not be especially nutrient-rich, but with a few upgrades, you can enjoy your favorite fare with more nutrition in each bite.

Include a source of high-quality protein.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend including a variety of protein options, such as seafood, skinless poultry, lean pork, such as pork tenderloin or center-cut pork chops, and lean beef, like sirloin steaks or roast and 90% lean ground beef. Eggs are also a high-quality protein source, providing 6 grams of protein per large egg and all nine essential amino acids, for only 70 calories. Vegetarian sources of protein, such as soy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds can also be included regularly. Diets rich in high-quality protein have been shown to help people feel full and satisfied after eating, control their appetite and manage their body weight. Additionally, eating meals with 20-30 grams of protein helps promote muscle protein synthesis, and supports the maintenance of healthy muscle with aging. Eggs can be enjoyed throughout the day! While eggs are traditionally viewed as a go-to breakfast food, they also make great snacks or a delicious protein option in balanced lunches and dinners. One of my favorite easy dinner recipes on a busy night is a family favorite pizza, and I love this Hawaiian Scrambled Egg Pizza for added protein.

Incorporate a hefty helping of vegetables.

Eggs make it easy to follow a plant-based diet because they pair well with vegetables, which are foods Americans often don’t eat enough of.1 But don’t forget the yolks folks. Nearly half of an egg’s protein and most of its vitamins and minerals – including those essential for supporting our brains and bodies — are found in the yolk. Eggs and vegetables are a perfect pairing because vegetables are a source of many of the nutrients lacking in the typical American diet, including vitamin A, C, folate, fiber, magnesium, and potassium.1 Incorporating more vegetables into comforting dishes you already enjoy is a great way to boost the nutritional value of the meal and adding eggs can help you better absorb the nutrients found in vegetables, such as vitamin E and carotenoids.2,3 One of my favorite comforting classics is spaghetti, and I love the idea of trading half the pasta for zucchini noodles in this Pasta Carbonara with Mixed Noodles.

Choose whole grains.

Whole grains are foods made from the entire grain kernel, which is made up of the bran, endosperm, and germ, and they thus retain more nutrients than refined grains. Whole grains are an important source of dietary fiber, iron, and folate, and the Dietary Guidelines recommend that we make at least half our grains whole to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.1 Eggs are also recommended for healthy adults as part of a heart-healthy diet according to the American Heart Association. Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa. These Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa and Eggs fit into a heart-healthy diet and would be a nutrient-packed alternative to traditional stuffed peppers with white rice and beef.

Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN, is a dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthy for a happy and delicious life. Jessica offers approachable healthy living tips, from fast recipes to meal prep guides and ways to enjoy exercise on her website, JessicaIveyRDN.com. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

  1. 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/].
  2. Kim, J.E., M.G. Ferruzzi, and W.W. Campbell, Egg Consumption Increases Vitamin E Absorption from Co-Consumed Raw Mixed Vegetables in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr, 2016. 146(11): p. 2199-2205.
  3. Kim, J.E., et al., Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015. 102(1): p. 75-83.

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When is an egg not just an egg? The importance of global food systems

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When is an egg not just an egg? The importance of global food systems

Mickey Rubin, PhD

Global Food Systems

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, we each have a role to play in ensuring that food is accessible for all – while also being good for us and the planet. As dietitians and healthcare professionals, we are aware of how the foods we choose to eat not only impact our health, but also the larger food system. That’s why we’re excited to share more about important conversations taking place on the global level. In September 2021, the UN Secretary-General convened the first-ever United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) to bring widespread attention to topics such as sustainability, food systems, and global health.

Dietitians play an integral role in promoting sustainability because they are highly skilled in translating complex science to patients and harness interpersonal skills to change patient behavior. Plus, dietitians understand the importance of both healthy diets and promoting a sustainable food system.

As such, dietitians recommend certain foods to patients to promote good nutrition and other health goals. Eggs and beans have long been regarded as highly nutritious foods – both are a source of protein and key nutrients. In addition to being nutritious foods to include in the diet, the UNFSS formally recognized eggs and beans as “star ingredients” as part of World Food Day 2021. The UNFSS video, When Is An Egg Not Just An Egg?, highlights the key role that eggs play in diets around the world; they’re accessible, nutritious, and full of potential for fueling our bodies. The video The Magic of Beans highlighted beans as a versatile, affordable, and nutritious food for people around the world. These videos help promote the importance of food systems conversations and show that eggs and beans are fuel for our future.

So, what do you mean by food systems?

Food systems refer to the collective activities involved in the production, processing, transportation, consumption, and disposal of food. They encompass the physical health of people, as well as healthy environments, economies, and cultures. Registered dietitians play a critical role in food systems, helping patients build nutritious dietary patterns while considering the affordability, accessibility, and cultural context of food choices.

And, what happened at the UNFSS and why is it important?

UNFSS was convened as part of the Decade of Action on Nutrition to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). Promoted as a “people’s summit, UNFSS assembled key actors across global food systems, with over 51,000 attendees from 193 countries. It included five Action Tracks to draw on the expertise of different stakeholders, two of which included nutrition and sustainable consumption:

  • Action Track 1 concentrated on ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all, with the goal of ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms. This Action Track launched conversations on food safety, access to school meals, workforce nutrition, and more.
  • Action Track 2 covered sustainable consumption patterns, looking to build consumer demand for sustainably produced food, strengthen local value chains, improve nutrition, and promote the reuse and recycling of food resources. This Action Track examined the role of food environments, demand creation, and food loss and waste.

UNFSS was the first major global gathering around food systems. It resulted in coalition-building among stakeholders, national commitments from governments, and cross-cutting priorities for global nutrition organizations. Undoubtedly, the high-level conversations launched at UNFSS will drive nutrition commitments and food policy for decades to come.

Interested in learning how you can take action on food systems? Follow UNFSS on Twitter or Instagram for announcements of new coalitions, podcasts on global food systems, as well as opportunities for health professionals and other stakeholders to get involved.

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New Study Shows Value of Eggs as Part of Plant-Based Diets for People at Risk for Diabetes

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New study shows value of eggs as part of plant-based diets for people at risk for diabetes

Mickey Rubin, Phd & Jen houchins, PHD

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

A new study demonstrates adding eggs to plant-based diets in people who are at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) can improve nutrient intake without impacting cardiovascular risk.1  In this study, plant-based diets were based on the USDA healthy vegetarian meal plan, with modifications to exclude eggs and dairy products.    

This randomized, controlled trial included two dietary interventions: 1) six weeks of an exclusively plant-based diet with no animal-sourced foods or, 2) six weeks of an exclusively plant-based diet + 2 eggs per day. Participants were individuals at risk for T2DM.

Results showed that including two eggs per day in the otherwise exclusively plant-based diet had no impact on measures of cardiometabolic health, including endothelial function, lipid profile, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, or body weight, despite an expected increase in dietary cholesterol intake. This is consistent with dietary recommendations that indicate eggs can be part of overall healthy diet patterns.2 Importantly, including eggs in a plant-based diet did significantly improve selenium and choline intakes, while there was a decrease in calcium and vitamin K intake.

Choline is important for the brain, nervous system and membranes that surround the body’s cells.3,4  Importantly, the plant-based diet + eggs significantly improved dietary choline intake, but at 410 mg/day, this still does not reach the Adequate Intake (AI) for women. These data show that careful planning is required to meet choline intake, and it might be especially difficult to meet the AI without eating eggs or taking a dietary supplement.5 Additionally, selenium has wide ranging functions and can support overall cardiovascular and immune health.6

This study is particularly strong in demonstrating the value of eggs as part of plant-based diets because other animal-sourced foods have been removed from the intervention. In this way, these new data were able to isolate the impact of eggs and showed no impact on indicators of cardiometabolic health.  However, animal-sourced foods can be important for meeting nutrient needs, as illustrated by inadequate calcium during this study potentially due to exclusion of dairy foods. 

Overall, this new study demonstrates that consuming two eggs daily as part of plant-based diets does not impact cardiometabolic risk factors in adults at risk for T2DM. The authors state, “Eggs could be used as an adjuvant to enhance plant-based diets that are typically recommended for those at risk of T2DM.1”  While larger trials are needed, these new data build on existing literature demonstrating the value of eggs as part of healthy diet patterns for people who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes.7-11

  1. Njike, V.Y., et al., Egg Consumption in the Context of Plant-Based Diets and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr, 2021.
  2. Carson, J.A.S., et al., Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2019: p. Cir0000000000000743.
  3. National Institutes of Health. Choline: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021; Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/.
  4. National Institutes of Health. Selenium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021; Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-HealthProfessional/.
  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).
  6. Weeks, B.S., M.S. Hanna, and D. Cooperstein, Dietary selenium and selenoprotein function. Medical science monitor : international medical journal of experimental and clinical research, 2012. 18(8): p. RA127-RA132.
  7. Baghdasarian, S., et al., Dietary Cholesterol Intake Is Not Associated with Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in the Framingham Offspring Study. Nutrients, 2018. 10(6).
  8. Lin, H.P., et al., Dietary Cholesterol, Lipid Levels, and Cardiovascular Risk among Adults with Diabetes or Impaired Fasting Glucose in the Framingham Offspring Study. Nutrients, 2018. 10(6).
  9. Pourafshar, S., et al., Egg consumption may improve factors associated with glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in adults with pre- and type II diabetes. Food Funct, 2018. 9(8): p. 4469-4479.
  10. Fuller, N.R., et al., The effect of a high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) study-a 3-mo randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015. 101(4): p. 705-13.
  11. DiBella, M., et al., Choline Intake as Supplement or as a Component of Eggs Increases Plasma Choline and Reduces Interleukin-6 without Modifying Plasma Cholesterol in Participants with Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients, 2020. 12(10).

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Make Every Bite Count – Information & Resources for Healthcare Professionals to Share with New Parents

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Make Every Bite Count:

Information & Resources for Healthcare Professionals to Share with New Parents

Katie Hayes, RDN

Eggs Across the Lifespan

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

At the Egg Nutrition Center, we commend Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) and their unwavering commitment to science as they make practical recommendations to their patients and clients. Staying abreast of current evidence is critical as HCPs craft their guidance and education. 

In order to help HCPs offer their patients and clients comprehensive information on eggs as a first food for growth and development, allergy risk reduction, and feeding tips, we created “Make Every Bite Count” booklets (download here) and a poster (download here) that can be printed and shared. Why is this information important to share with parents and caregivers? Keep reading! 

The newly released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations for birth to 24 months old, and specifically recommend eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant women and lactating moms.1 This historic recommendation, coupled with the evolving evidence about infant feeding and allergen guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, arms practitioners with a clear message, “Parents can make every bite count by feeding eggs as a fundamental first food.”

In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their policy on the introduction of potentially allergenic complementary foods. Feeding common food allergens, such as eggs, when a baby is developmentally ready (between 4-6 months) may actually reduce the chances of developing an allergy to that food.2

Additionally, in their 2018 policy statement advocating for improving nutrition in the first 1,000 days, the AAP stated: “Although all nutrients are necessary for brain growth, key nutrients that support neurodevelopment include protein; zinc; iron; choline; folate; iodine; vitamins A, D, B6, and B12; and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Failure to provide key nutrients during this critical period of brain development may result in lifelong deficits in brain function despite subsequent nutrient repletion.”3

Eggs are affordable, accessible, and versatile. Eggs contain various amounts of all the nutrients listed by the AAP as essential for brain growth, including being an excellent source of choline, which plays a vital role in neurocognition during the first 1,000 days of life. With 90% of brain growth happening before kindergarten, eggs help make every bite count, especially when babies are just being introduced to solid foods. These recommendations confirm what the science has shown: eggs provide critical nutritional support for brain health, and they play a crucial role in infant development and prenatal health. Just one large egg provides the daily choline needs for babies and toddlers, and two large eggs provide more than half of daily choline needs for lactating moms.

Eggs are a nutrient-dense powerhouse. They provide an excellent source of vitamin B12, biotin, iodine, selenium, and choline; a good source of high-quality protein, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid; as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.4

For more information and shareable handouts, videos, and more visit our materials page

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 9th Edition. December 2020. 
  2. Greer, F.R., S.H. Sicherer, and A.W. Burks, The Effects of Early Nutritional Interventions on the Development of Atopic Disease in Infants and Children: The Role of Maternal Dietary Restriction, Breastfeeding, Hydrolyzed Formulas, and Timing of Introduction of Allergenic Complementary Foods. Pediatrics, 2019. 143(4).
  3. Schwarzenberg SJ, Georgieff MK. Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics, 2018. 141(2)
  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. 2019; Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html. 

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2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – AEB Press Release

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2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans - AEB Press Release

New Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eggs for the nutrition babies need for brain development
Parents can make every bite count by feeding eggs as a fundamental first food

CHICAGO (Dec. 29, 2020) – One of the best foods for a baby’s healthy brain development is already in most refrigerators: eggs. In an historic first, the newly released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations for birth to 24 months old and specifically recommend eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant women and lactating moms.

The new Guidelines substantiate that eggs — long known to be a vital source of nutrients for people of all ages — provide several key nutrients important for babies during the time in which their brains are most rapidly developing. Notably, the Guidelines highlight the importance of choline, a nutrient plentiful in eggs, while recommending eggs as a first food for babies to reduce risk for an egg allergy.

“The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans confirm what the science has shown: eggs provide critical nutritional support for brain health, and they play a crucial role in infant development and prenatal health,” said Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board. “With 90% of brain growth happening before kindergarten, eggs help make every bite count, especially when babies are just being introduced to solid foods.”

As a fundamental first food for babies, eggs are one of the most concentrated sources of choline, a nutrient that has now been recognized as important for brain health. Just one large egg provides the daily choline needs for babies and toddlers, and two large eggs provide more than half of daily choline needs for pregnant moms. Additionally, early introduction of eggs (between 4-6 months of age and when a baby is developmentally ready) may also help reduce the risk of developing an egg allergy.

“As a nutrition scientist and a dad, I know this is important news for parents,” said Dr. Mickey Rubin, executive director of the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center. “Choline is a nutrient under-consumed by all Americans, and the Guidelines recommend eggs as a notable source of choline to support brain health and development during pregnancy. Additionally, establishing healthy eating patterns from the start ensures children’s growing bodies and brains get the nutrition they need. Eggs are a fundamental food in these early years because they provide a unique nutrient package.”

Eggs: Good for baby — and the rest of us, too

Eggs qualify for all three healthy eating patterns recommended in the new Guidelines, and the Guidelines also affirm that eggs, as a nutrient-dense food, can contribute to the health and well-being of Americans of all ages in several ways, including:

  • Important nutrients for teenagers: The Guidelines encourage eggs for pre-teens and adolescents, especially girls, because of the protein and choline they provide.
  • Muscle repair and bone health: The high-quality protein in eggs helps maintain and repair muscle while supporting bone health.
  • B12 for older adults: Older adults are at nutritional risk for not getting enough protein and vitamin B12, which eggs provide as a good source.
  • Natural source of vitamin D: Americans do not get enough vitamin D, for which eggs, as one of the few natural food sources, provide 6% of the daily recommendation.

Learn more about how eggs, as a nutrient-dense food, support babies’ healthy brain development and contribute to health and well-being at every age and life stage. Find family-friendly recipes and advice about introducing eggs to your youngest family members at EggNutritionCenter.org.

Eating Well During The Holiday Season

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Eating Well During The Holiday Season

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to write this blog post.

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year but can also feel busy and stressful. And while this year might look a little different, we can all still look for ways to enjoy the season and take some time for a bit of self-care, too. When talking with patients or clients, encouraging a positive approach that focuses on balance can make a big difference. Here are some simple tips to eat well throughout the holiday season. 

Start with a balanced breakfast

Research suggests that eating breakfast helps reduce daily hunger, so “breaking the fast” with a morning meal can lower chances of overeating later in the day. A balanced breakfast includes a protein source, like eggs, to help keep hunger at bay. Here are some of our favorite simple breakfast recipes:

  • Whether using a bagel, English muffin, or whole grain bread, an egg sandwich offers the opportunity to include a variety of tasty trimmings like tomato slices and avocado, like in this Everything Bagel Sandwich with Egg.
  • Pile whatever vegetables you have on hand into an omelet, like in this Greek Vegetable Omelet.
  • These Pea Fritters can be made ahead of time and reheated for a quick breakfast. Don’t forget to #putaneggonit!

Add foods, rather than take away

It’s common to think about healthy eating in terms of “forbidden” foods, but that way of thinking can be discouraging and can cause clients to give up on making positive behavior changes. Rather than omitting foods, encourage clients to add nutritious options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and eggs. Shifting one’s mindset to think about increasing nutrient-dense options at mealtime helps decrease feelings of guilt about food.

Snack on protein

The end of year hustle and bustle often means skipped snacks and forgotten meals which leads to energy crashes and all-around crankiness – definitely not in line with the holiday spirit! Encourage clients to have easy-to-make and/or easy-to-grab snacks on hand so it’s easier to enjoy a bite when time is tight. Snacks that include a balance of healthy fats, filling fiber, and satiating protein will help clients stay fuller longer. Here are some nutritious snack options that include eggs:

Enjoy dessert!

It’s okay (and encouraged) to eat dessert over the holidays! Eggnogg, sugar cookies, and other seasonal favorites are often part of holiday traditions and there’s no need to discourage foods that bring joy. Encourage clients to practice moderation and savor each bite without any guilt! Here are some delicious desserts to try:

Bottom line: encourage clients to take time for self-care this holiday season – whether that means enjoying nutritious snacks and meals or finding joy in the things that make the season special (ideally both!)

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Free Webinar: Every Bite Counts – Nutrition During Pregnancy and Birth to 24 Months

D Every Bite Counts Webinar 2098x963

Mickey Rubin, PhD

Nutrients in Eggs

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

To view the recorded webinar click here.

Continuing education certificate can be found here.

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report includes for the first time dietary guidance for women who are pregnant and infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age, highlighting the importance of optimal nutrition during these life stages. Health professionals play a critical role in educating expectant mothers and the parents, guardians and caregivers that help shape dietary intake during for the first few years of life. This webinar will equip health professionals with clear and practical guidance for educating these groups on the latest research and key dietary recommendations from the Scientific Report.

After attending this webinar, the attendee will be able to:

  • Identify important nutrients and foods during pregnancy and birth to 24 months
  • Explain the importance of introducing potentially allergenic foods early and often
  • Describe practical ways to close nutrient gaps during pregnancy and birth to 24 months

This webinar has been approved by CDR for:
1.0 CEU

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