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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Choline during pregnancy: new study shows lasting cognitive benefit for children

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Choline during pregnancy: new study shows lasting cognitive benefit for children

Jen Houchins, Phd

Nutrients in Eggs

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Getting enough choline is important throughout the lifespan, but it is especially critical during pregnancy and lactation to support the baby’s brain development.1,2  Previous research demonstrated that choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy can improve an infant’s cognitive function,3 and a recently published follow-up study with this same group of children found a lasting impact into school-age years.4  While larger studies will need to confirm these human data, the current evidence demonstrates higher maternal choline intake during pregnancy can have a lasting beneficial impact on children’s brain health and development.

Previously, a randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding study found that higher maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy (930 vs. 480 mg/day) improved infant information processing speed (a measure of cognitive function).  Importantly, a benefit was also seen at the lower level of intake for infants born to mothers who were enrolled in the study for a greater duration of pregnancy.  The authors concluded, “even modest increases in maternal choline intake during pregnancy may produce cognitive benefits for offspring.”3

As a follow-up, the same children from this initial study were assessed at seven years old.  Children born to women who were in the 930 mg supplementation group demonstrated superior performance in sustained attention (a measure of cognitive function), compared to children in the 480 mg supplementation group.4  The long-term benefits of choline supplementation during pregnancy are hypothesized to be at least partly due to lasting changes during brain development, which would be consistent with animal studies.  While these results strongly support a beneficial impact of higher choline intake during pregnancy, the authors recommend larger studies in more diverse populations to confirm the observations.  Further, more research is needed to determine the optimal level of choline intake during pregnancy.

Most Americans, including pregnant women (average choline intake of 350 mg/day), do not meet the Adequate Intake for choline.2,4,5  With these new human data supporting the critical role of higher choline intake during early life, consuming choline-rich foods (along with a supplement if indicated), are encouraged as part of healthy dietary patterns.5,6  Importantly, one large egg provides several nutrients essential for brain growth, including 150 mg choline.7,8  A large egg also provides 252 mcg of lutein + zeaxanthin, carotenoids with emerging evidence linking to brain development and health.9  Other nutrient-rich foods that can help provide choline to the diet include meat, soybeans, poultry, fish, dairy products, potatoes with skin, wheat germ, quinoa, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, and seeds.10

“Meeting nutrient needs through foods and beverages is preferred, but women who are concerned about meeting recommendations should speak with their healthcare provider to determine whether choline supplementation is appropriate.”11  For more information about choline, see the National Institutes of Health Choline Fact Sheet for Health Professionals and Choline Throughout the Lifespan article. For recipe inspiration, check out IncredibleEgg.org.

  1. Wallace, T.C. and V.L. Fulgoni, 3rd, Assessment of Total Choline Intakes in the United States. J Am Coll Nutr, 2016. 35(2): p. 108-12.
  2. 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).
  3. Caudill, M.A., 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, 2018. 32(4): p. 2172-2180.
  4. Bahnfleth, C.L., et al., Prenatal choline supplementation improves child sustained attention: A 7-year follow-up of a randomized controlled feeding trial. Faseb j, 2022. 36(1): p. e22054.
  5. Wallace, T.C., et al., Choline: The Neurocognitive Essential Nutrient of Interest to Obstetricians and Gynecologists. J Diet Suppl, 2019: p. 1-20.
  6. Caudill, M.A., et al., Building better babies: should choline supplementation be recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers? Literature overview and expert panel consensus. Eur Gyn Obstet, 2020. 2: p. 149-61.
  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central SR Legacy — Egg, whole, raw, fresh. 2019 April 1, 2019; Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171287/nutrients.
  8. Schwarzenberg, S.J. and M.K. Georgieff, Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics, 2018. 141(2).
  9. Wallace, T.C., A Comprehensive Review of Eggs, Choline, and Lutein on Cognition Across the Life-span. J Am Coll Nutr, 2018. 37(4): p. 269-285.
  10. National Institutes of Health. Choline: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2021; Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/.
  11. 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.

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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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FREE Class: First Steps to FEEDing Your Baby

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Nutrients in Eggs

To view the recorded class click here.

Handouts associated with the class can be accessed here and here

Once you have viewed the recorded class, please fill out this short survey

Do you work with new parents or caregivers looking for information on how to introduce solid foods to babies? Or maybe your family has welcomed a new addition and you’d like a refresher on “nutrition for baby” 101? Egg Enthusiasts and Registered Dietitians Sara Haas and Lara Field of FEED Nutrition Counseling discuss the basics of feeding babies in this free class. Lara breaks down the science of feeding new babies and provides expert tips on when and how to start solid foods, while Sara brings the conversation to the kitchen and shows how to put these concepts into practice.

Feel free to share this on-demand class with your clients and audiences!

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

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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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Transitioning to Family Meals: Nutrient-Dense Foods for Infants and Toddlers

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Transitioning to Family Meals:

Nutrient-Dense Foods for Infants and Toddlers

Jen Houchins, PhD

Eggs Across the Lifespan

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Key Messages

  • The 2020 DGAC says “every bite counts” when it comes to feeding infants and toddlers because it is a critical period for growth and development that is characterized by high nutrient needs in relation to the amount of food consumed.

  • The DGAC emphasizes offering developmentally appropriate forms of nutrient-rich animal- sourced foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products, as well as nut and seed containing foods, fruits, vegetables, and grain products in age-appropriate forms.


While children develop at different rates and individual circumstances can influence feeding needs, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee summarizes, “A general principle is to view the period from ages 6 to 24 months as a continuous transition from diets appropriate for infants to diets that resemble family food patterns.”1

6 to 12 Months: Provide Complementary Foods with High Nutrient Density

During the first year of life, human milk or infant formula contribute a substantial proportion of total energy. When an infant is developmentally ready (around 4 to 6 months), complementary foods can be introduced.1

The 2020 DGAC recommends:

  • “…consumption of meat, egg, and seafood is an important strategy” for providing key nutrients such as iron, zinc, choline, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • “Fortified infant cereals can contribute a substantial amount of some of these nutrients, particularly iron and zinc…”
  • “…fruits and vegetables…rich in potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C…not only to provide adequate nutrition but also to foster acceptance of these healthy foods.”
  • “Introduction of peanut products and egg is advised…” to help reduce the risk of allergies to these foods and “to provide good sources of fatty acids and choline.”
  • “…diets at this age include no remaining energy for added sugars and little energy for added oils or added solid fats.”

12 to 24 Months: Continue to Provide a Variety of Complementary Foods and Beverages with High Nutrient Density

In their analysis for 12 to 24 months, the 2020 DGAC started with the same proportions in the 1,000 kcal pattern for 2 years and older and then adjusted in order to meet nutrient needs for toddlers. Guidance was provided for caregivers1:

  • “Provide a variety of animal-source foods (meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy),
    fruits, and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grain products, beginning at ages 6 to 12 months and continuing thereafter…”
  • “For toddlers ages 12 to 24 months whose diets do not include meat, poultry, or seafood, provide eggs and dairy products on a regular basis, along with soy products and nuts or seeds, fruits, vegetables, grains and oils.”
  • “Avoid foods and beverages with added sugars during the first 2 years of life.”

Overall, these carefully crafted guidelines emphasize “every bite counts” – that is, infants and toddlers are not able to eat large amounts of food, but require significant amounts of essential nutrients during this critical period for growth and development.

Importantly, the 2020 DGAC provided examples of what infants and toddlers should eat, and suggest research is needed to better understand how infants and toddlers should be fed. The Scientific Report states, “Establishing healthy eating habits during the first 2 years of life is critical. Although the individual experience shapes food preferences (e.g., tastes), the collective modeling of food choices in young childhood through direct observation of food intake by peers and adults also is paramount.” This statement is supported by research that indicates caregivers can play an important role in helping to shape children’s eating habits by providing healthy food in the home and by modeling eating behaviors.2,3  In other words, one of the best ways to help baby learn to eat healthy is by providing nutrient-rich options for the entire family!

  1. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 2020

  2. Scaglioni, S., et al., Factors Influencing Children’s Eating Behaviours. Nutrients, 2018. 10(6).

  3. Yee, A.Z., M.O. Lwin, and S.S. Ho, The influence of parental practices on child promotive and preventive food consumption behaviors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 2017. 14(1): p. 47.

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Every Bite Counts: Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report Highlights Eggs as a Food that can Help Close Nutrient Gaps Across The Lifespan

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Every Bite Counts:

Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report Highlights Eggs as a Food that can Help Close Nutrient Gaps Across the Lifespan

Mickey Rubin, PhD

Nutrition Across the Lifespan

Nutrients in Eggs

This past July, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released their Scientific Report1 which will serve to inform the development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans due out at the end of this year. The Committee examined the latest nutrition science using a life-stage approach, making dietary recommendations for Americans of all ages. Importantly, for the first time in the history of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, these recommendations will include guidance for children from birth to 2 years of age.

Contained within the Scientific Report were several important conclusions regarding the role of eggs in healthy diets across the lifespan. The Committee highlighted science supporting eggs as a fundamental first food for infants and toddlers. Eggs provide several nutrients noted as important during this time of rapid brain development including high-quality protein, choline, and iodine. The Committee’s thorough review of the science recognized eggs’ role in providing these critical nutrients, including eggs in recommendations from the very moment infants are ready for solid foods.

Choline is under-consumed by most Americans, but the Committee noted that this poses special challenges for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women. A recent survey commissioned by ENC showed low levels of awareness of choline among both new and expecting mothers and the health professionals who care for them. Over 70% of these moms and over 40% of OBGYNs and pediatricians were unfamiliar with choline. With less than 10% of pregnant women meeting the Adequate Intake, this lack of knowledge represents a barrier to adequate choline consumption.2 Importantly, in our survey dietitians had almost 90% awareness of choline. Clearly, dietitians should play an important role in closing this knowledge gap.

Related, the Scientific Report highlighted iodine as a nutrient of public health concern for pregnant women and as a nutrient important for infant brain development. Eggs are an excellent source of iodine, containing 20% of the Daily Value. As an excellent source of both choline and iodine, new and expecting moms would benefit greatly from education on the importance of including eggs in their diets to achieve recommendations and support brain development.

The Scientific Report also recommended early introduction of eggs to reduce the risk of egg allergy. This conclusion aligns with previous recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Given older, contradictory guidance to avoid early introduction of allergens, it will be especially important to provide clear guidance and education on this new recommendation.

The Scientific Report recognized that eggs can help Americans meet nutrient needs at all ages and move towards achieving healthier diet patterns. In children, the Committee identified the diet quality benefits if energy were to be redistributed from added sugars to the Protein Foods group – highlighting eggs as a preferred nutrient-dense option. In pre-teens and adolescents – particularly girls – eggs were encouraged for their protein and choline content. Older adults were noted for poor nutritional status related to protein and vitamin B12, two nutrients for which eggs provide greater than 10% of the Daily Value. Eggs also were identified as one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, a nutrient of public health concern for all Americans.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report represents a tremendous step forward in our understanding of the science on healthy eating. We look forward to the release of the Dietary Guidelines later this year which will provide the latest information to nutrition and health professionals about how to build healthy diets and how eggs, as a nutrient-dense food, contribute to health and wellbeing at every age and life stage in a variety of ways.

  1. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 2020
  2. Wallace, T.C. and V.L. Fulgoni, Usual Choline Intakes Are Associated with Egg adn Protein food Consumption in the United States. Nutrients, 2017. 9(8).

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Enjoying Eggs with Infants, Toddlers and the Whole Family

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Enjoying Eggs with Infants, Toddlers and the Whole Family

Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT

Eggs Across the Lifespan

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Kim Hoban, RDN, CDN, CPT to write this blog post.

The process of introducing solid foods to babies can feel overwhelming and intimidating, but starting with nutrient-rich foods and simple family-friendly recipes can help take the stress away. Fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, as well as proteins like meat, fish and eggs are all good options for first foods. Eggs in particular, which are classified as a nutrient-dense food by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), are easy, versatile and budget-friendly, making them an option parents can feel good about serving.

Not only are eggs a nutritional powerhouse for adults, but because they offer essential nutrients for growth and development, the DGAC recommended eggs as foundational first food for infants and toddlers as well. Plus, eggs provide various amounts of all the nutrients listed by the American Academy of Pediatrics as essential for brain health, including choline, vitamin B12, and protein. Choline, an essential nutrient for brain health and development, is often under consumed by adults and children alike. The Adequate Intake (AI) for choline is 125-150mg daily for babies and 200mg for toddlers up to 3 years old. Just one large egg contains about 150mg of choline to meet those needs!

On top of the nutritional benefits, the DGAC highlighted that early introduction of eggs has been shown to reduce the risk of egg allergies later in life. The Advisory Committee affirmed that current research indicates that introducing peanut and egg, in an age-appropriate form, in the first year of life (>4 months) may reduce the risk of allergy to peanut and eggs. For other potentially allergenic foods, the DGAC reported there is no evidence that avoiding such foods in the first year of life is beneficial.

When it comes to serving eggs to babies, toddlers and young children, think beyond simple scrambled or hard-boiled eggs (though those are great too!) by offering up a variety of nutritious and delicious ways to enjoy eggs. For babies, easy-to-grab options like Banana Pumpkin Pancakes, Avocado and Banana Muffins, and Broccoli and Cauliflower Quinoa Bites are eggcellent choices. Once eggs and peanut-containing foods have been introduced and tolerated, it’s essential to continue offering these foods on a regular basis. This simple Peanut Butter Sweet Potato Souffle is a tasty way for parents to include both eggs and peanuts in one easy recipe.

For toddlers and older kids, get creative with family-friendly recipes that are nourishing and fun for everyone. Getting children involved in the cooking process by creating joyful experiences can help build their confidence and increase the likelihood of trying more new and different foods. Let your kids pick from options like Hawaiian Scrambled Egg Pizza, Baked Cheesy Pasta with Broccoli and Pear, and Pizza Granola Bars. Not only are eggs nutritious and delicious, but they are an affordable and easy way to nourish family members of all ages, from infants and babies to adolescents and adults.

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What are the nutritional differences for different types of eggs?

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What are the Nutritional Differences for Different Types of Eggs?

Nutrients in Eggs

There are some common misconceptions about the nutritional value of different types of eggs. For example, some people have the impression that brown eggs are nutritionally superior to white eggs, or that cage-free or free-range eggs are nutritionally superior to conventional eggs. In reality, none of these is true unless the hens’ diets have been altered.

Brown eggs come from hens with brown feathers and brown earlobes, and white eggs come from hens with white feathers and white earlobes, but the nutritional composition of those eggs is the same. Similarly, label claims such as “Cage-Free,” “Pasture-Raised,” “Enriched Colony,” “Free-Range,” “Conventional” and even “Organic” simply refer to the way the eggs were farmed and unless the feed is fortified (see below), do not denote meaningful nutritional differences.

The cost of one type of egg relative to another type of egg is also not an indicator of nutritional value; it is a reflection of the farming method used to produce the egg (or in the case of brown eggs, it is because the birds are slightly larger and require more food).

Yolk color is dependent on the hen’s diet, and specifically, carotenoid intake.  Carotenoids are color pigments that give egg yolks their yellow-orange hue.  Hen feed (regardless of the farming method) can be enhanced with carotenoids via carotenoid-rich extracts such as marigold which can lead to a darker yolk.

The only way to produce eggs with higher levels of nutrients is by feeding the hens that lay the eggs a diet of nutritionally fortified feed. In such cases, the eggs are marketed as nutrient- or nutritionally enhanced, and their packaging will specify nutrient content. For example, certain eggs may be enriched with omega-3 fatty acids or higher levels of vitamin D. When in doubt, always check the Nutrition Facts label on the carton.

Different types of eggs are available in order to accommodate people’s preferences and budgets. But at the end of the day, from a nutrition perspective, all eggs are nutrient-rich and can be part of healthy dietary patterns. And, unless they have been nutritionally enhanced, all eggs have the same essential nutrients— regardless of the shell color of the egg or the way the egg was farmed.

Please see the Egg Nutrition Center’s labeling handout for more details, and other common terms on egg cartons.  Regardless of the hen’s diet or farming method, egg farmers are committed to providing high-quality eggs, making the health and well-being of their hens top-priority, and continue to be dedicated to supporting sustainable eating patterns.

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