“The Incredible Egg”: Make the best decision in the dining hall

By Bianca Tamburello, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

 

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The Benefits of Eggs

Eggs have become synonymous with breakfast for their high nutrient density. According to the American Egg Board, eggs offer 6 grams of the highest quality protein. The high quality protein keeps you fuller for a longer period of time, which aids in weight management (1). Eggs are also great source of choline which supports healthy brain function, plays a crucial role in fetal brain development and prevents birth defects. Although the egg yolk is often criticized for its cholesterol content, yolks contain vitamins and minerals that are not found in the egg white. The yolk contains lutein and zeaxanthin that contribute to eye health and have been shown to decrease the risk of macular degeneration (2). The egg yolk is also a rich source of zinc, folate, riboflavin, vitamin A and iron, all essential to your health.

Despite the many health benefits of eggs, many egg options make a seemingly simple food choice much more difficult. In addition to deciding whether you would like your eggs scrambled, sunny-side up, over-easy or hardboiled, the dining hall offers cage free eggs, Egg Beaters, egg whites, and of course, standard eggs. The combinations seem infinite and the decision-making process can be stressful, especially in the early morning.

The SC Nutrition Center would like to clear up the confusion among these options and help you arrive to the best egg choice for you!

Cage-Free Eggs

After a loud 97 percent of the BU student population responded “yes” to switching to all cage free eggs in the dining hall, Boston University recently announced that as of September 2012 they will only be purchasing cage-free eggs. Although cage-free eggs cost about double the cost of standard eggs, the increase in price will affect the dining hall budget and leave student tuition untouched.

According to Sabrina Pashtan with Sustainability at Boston University, cage-free eggs are the more humane option to standard eggs. Pashtan further explained in an interview with COM student Alyssa Langer, “while cage-free hens live with around 15,000-35,000 other hens, caged hens can live with up to 1,000,000 other hens, which creates a lot more waste that is very hazardous to the environment.  This waste is stored in lagoons and contaminates the soil and air around it and also greatly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Currently, there are no findings that indicate that cage-free eggs have additional nutritional benefits over standard eggs. When faced with the decision between cage-free and standard eggs, budget and conscience are often the deciding factors.

Egg Beaters

Egg Beaters® are egg whites with added flavors, food coloring, and thickeners that give the egg substitute a similar texture and taste to egg yolks. Without the yolk, egg beaters contain“1/2 the calories of shell eggs,” 0mg of cholesterol, and 0g of fat. To compensate for the loss of vitamins and minerals, egg beaters are enriched with folic acid, riboflavin and other nutrients that are lost when the yolk is removed. Unless you struggle with high cholesterol, egg cholesterol does not have to be restricted. In fact, the USDA reports that newest research shows that eggs actually contain 12% less cholesterol than initially estimated and offer 56% more vitamin D than calculated in the past(3). Studies suggest that healthy adults, without cholesterol related health problems, can consume an egg a day without observing a rise in cholesterol levels.

 

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Egg Whites

Egg whites physically separated from the yolk immediately before cooking have a different nutritional content than Egg Beaters. Egg whites freshly separated do not contain any taste, color and texture additives that give Egg Beaters a similar appearance and mouthfeel to whole eggs. However, since egg whites are freshly separated the vitamins and minerals found in the yolk are not consumed. In the processing of Egg Beaters, the whites are enriched with the vitamins and minerals lost in the yolk-white separation process.

Brown or White Eggs

Does the color of the egg shell indicate that the contents are different? According to P.h.D Marion Nestle, put simply “the color of an eggshell is determined by genetics…their nutritional contents are the same.” In What to Eat, Nestle further warns not to be fooled by stores who mark up the price of certain color eggs. Unless, there is a personal preference for the aesthetic color, color is not significant.

Tofu now being served at the omelet station!

In addition to the many egg options in the dining hall, dining halls across campus are now featuring tofu at the omelet station! Tofu is rich in protein and serves as a wonderful substitution to high-protein eggs. If you love both of these super foods try an egg and tofu scramble to kick start your morning and keep you satisfied until lunch or your next snack.

References

Weigle DS, et al. 2005. A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations. Am J Clin Nutr. 82:41-48..

The sunny side of eggs. (2008, March). UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, 24:6.

In 2010, a random sample of regular large shell eggs was collected from locations across the country to analyze the nutrient content of eggs. The testing procedure was last completed with eggs in 2002, and while most nutrients remained similar to those values, cholesterol decreased by 12% and vitamin D increased by 56% from 2002 values.

Nestle, Marion. 2006. What to Eat. New York, NY. North Point Press

3 Comments

Vitamins posted on April 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Eggs have great sources that are found in vitamins. I love eggs. Especially scrambled eggs!

Cholesterol posted on May 31, 2012 at 1:01 am

Egg is great source of fat and protein, very essential for brain. If helps to improve cognitive power of brain.

Lorraine Gault posted on July 22, 2012 at 12:57 am

As a Food Coach people often ask me if I eat eggs. I love eggs, and often have them raw for breakfast liquidised with some freshly ground flaxseed and organic cocoa and a pinch of stevia.

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