Good Egg, Bad Egg

Good Egg, Bad Egg

Eggs are an amazing food, packed with many nutrients, usually inexpensive, and readily available. They are an exceptional source of several B vitamins, the micronutrients iron, iodine, and selenium, as well as potassium and phosphorus, and one of only several natural sources of vitamin D. Egg white (also called albumen) is the most excellent protein thus far identified. The choline in eggs is another strengths. This nutrient is important for nerve and artery health and is necessary for many metabolic processes. Developing fetuses in particular need it. Nine years ago, the Institute of Medicine added choline to their list of recommended nutrients.1 The American Medical Association recommended adding it to prenatal vitamins.2

Because eggs are nutrient-dense, those that are malnourished or at high risk of it stand to benefit the most from eggs. Some over age 65 are at high risk of sarcopenia, a decrease in muscle mass. This disorder increases the chances of a person falling and of developing osteoporosis, so increasing intake of protein, especially one that contains the easily digested protein such as that found in eggs, is a priority. Eggs are a good source of the vital amino acid leucine, adding to their value.3

In research done in Ecuador, babies ages six to nine months were fed one egg a day. This produced a drop in stunting by 47% and a 74% decrease in underweight. Older children that are malnourished can also benefit from eating eggs daily. But USDA data revealed that eggs made up only 1% of food expenses even though they are low cost. In the same survey, soft drinks comprised more than 9% of household food expenses. Access to fresh eggs and a lack of cooking facilities may contribute to that problem. 2

But not all the egg news is good news. Eggs were attacked for their high cholesterol level for many years. The high cholesterol content of eggs has not been found to increase significantly the blood cholesterol level (saturated fat, however, does). Still, some studies found that those with type 2 diabetes, especially men, who ate at least one egg a day were more likely to develop heart disease. Since 10% of Americans have type 2 diabetes and 30% have pre-diabetes, this isn’t a miscellaneous detail. Eating five or more eggs a week may also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Higher egg consumption could also increase the risk for aggressive prostate cancer. The authors of this article recommend that the well-nourished limit their egg consumption to four per week.4

     Labels  on egg cartons can be misleading. Cage-free is good for the hens but not necessarily for humans eating their eggs. Stating eggs are “hormone free” is also meaningless since all eggs are hormone-free. But the “USDA Organic” label is important. It indicates that the hens are fed an organic, vegetarian diet that is without antibiotics or pesticides.4 Eating raw eggs offers no advantages but does pose risks.Try to buy eggs produced locally as time and travel can lead to a decrease in some nutrients. Eggs high in omega-3 fatty acids are also a very good thing.5

 

References:

Reinhard, Tonia. Super Foods the Healthiest Foods on the Planet. Buffalo, New York:  Firefly Books, Inc., 2014.

Rains, Tia, PhD. “Eggs for the Nutritionally Vulnerable,” in Nutrition Close-up, Summer, 2017.

Smith, A. and Gray, J. “Considering the benefits of egg consumption for older people at risk of Sarcopenia,” in British Journal of Community Nursing, June, 2016, vol. 21, #6.

Liebman, Bonnie, “Unscrambling Eggs Health food or bad yolk,” in Nutrition Action Healthletter, June, 2015.

Guarneri, Mimi, M.D. The Science of Natural Healing. Chantilly, VA:  The Teaching Company, 2012.

Advertisements

Garlic and Onions and Leeks, Oh my!

Garlic and Onions and Leeks, Oh my!

It isn’t fair to stereotype these wonderful foods as doing nothing more that causing bad breath. There is so much more to these foods than that. Oh, there are more beautiful and more tasty foods out there, but do they really deliver the nutrients as well as this root-based vegetable family? With 1,200 onion varieties in the world, I guess it isn’t such a small family.

Onions are especially valued for their quercetin. This is a powerful antioxidant, rendering harmful compounds unable to cause their damage to human cells. This is why they help our body fight cancer. Quercetin has also been found helpful in lessening allergy symptoms. Onions possess other nutrients such as vitamin C, B6, potassium and manganese.

Research has also uncovered that onions may help alleviate the symptoms of upper respiratory infections. Lowering the risk of osteoporosis is another possible benefit from onions. If the strong flavor of onions decreases your intake of onions, you’ll be relieved to learn that cooking does not affect the flavonoid (including quercetin) or phenol compounds in these wonderful vegetables.

Leeks are related to onions and wonderful too. They are also high in the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, making them good antioxidant additions to the diet. They are also high in vitamin C and K, as well as manganese.

Garlic is just plain a superstar. It too is high in manganese, and a good source of vitamin C and vitamin B6. It also contains phytochemicals (chemicals that come from plants) and some of the benefits aren’t available until the garlic is crushed and allowed to sit for ten minutes before being eaten. Garlic also has strong antimicrobial properties, helping to kill bacteria, viruses and even fungi and parasites! Its anti-inflammatory effect makes it a potential aid in treating asthma and allergies. As if that isn’t enough, it can help lower blood pressure and decrease blood clot formation.

All three of these root vegetables (or are they herbs?) have been linked to cholesterol lowering as well. If you add that to the other vitamins in them, and consider their very low calorie content, surely they’ll start to look pretty beautiful. If you like to garden, all three are easy to grow as well. Enjoy these white roots and add all three to your diet on a regular basis.

References:  Tonia Reinhard, Super Foods, the Healthiest Foods on the Planet, 2nd edition. New York:  Firefly Books, 2014.

Dr. Don Colbert, Eat this and Live!  Lake Mary, FL:  Siloam, A Strang Company, 2009.

This information is not intended to replace the care of your Primary Care Provider.