Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian
Happy Easter! What a wonderful day to celebrate the nutritious egg. On this day of regrowth and renewal, the egg not only is a symbol of Easter, but also a symbol of excellent nutrient balance.
While no one whole food can provide all the nutrients you need in a day, it is in favor of health for us to choose individual foods that are nutrient powerhouses. And one of those nutrient powerhouses is in fact the egg.
Whole eggs provide high quality protein, vitamins, minerals and other good-for-you nutrients like choline. Eggs are healthful for all age groups, although introduction of eggs to babies should be discussed with your pediatrician. Since eggs are one of the top 8 allergenic foods, care should be taken when introducing them for the first time to a baby. Pregnant women should however, consume eggs regularly if possible, in order to provide choline to their growing babies, as it contributes to fetal development and helps prevent birth defects. Two eggs provide about half of the recommended amount of choline for pregnant women.
For those concerned about cholesterol, new research shows that the average amount of cholesterol in a large egg has dropped since 2002 by about 14% (from 215mg to 185mg). Generally, we should limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300mg daily. One egg daily or more than one every now and then could certainly fit into a balanced diet for most people. If you have high cholesterol or heart disease, work with a dietitian to determine whether and how eggs can fit into your diet.
Many individuals opt to just eat egg whites (no yolks) to eliminate the fat and cholesterol. While this may be advised for some, know that you miss out on the choline, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin (phytonutrients that contribute to eye health), most of your vitamins and some of your minerals and protein when you eliminate the yolk.
Today, many of us will enjoy eggs on our Easter table. From deviled eggs, casseroles and egg salad to dressings and desserts, eggs will appear in numerous ways this Easter. If you love lemon meringue pie or key lime pie for Easter, that meringue is from…you guessed it…whipped egg whites! Eggs versatility, good taste, digestibility and symbolism all make for the perfect Easter dish.
Care should of course be taken if real eggs (cooked or uncooked) are used for egg hunts – these eggs should not be consumed for food safety reasons. Since eggs are perishable, they should be kept in the refrigerator until ready to use or consume. Proper cooking and food handling will prevent food borne illness.
When purchasing eggs, check the expiration date and also look inside the carton to ensure none of the eggs have cracks. Bacteria can harbor in cracked eggs and contaminate the shells of the eggs in the same carton.
There are many varieties of eggs available to us. You can select conventional, organic, cage free, those fed all grain/vegetarian diet, those with added nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and extra vitamin D, brown or white (simply a difference in breed of hen) and in whichever size you prefer (usually medium, large or extra large.)
To learn more about eggs, visit www.incredibleegg.org. They currently even offer a coupon for eggs when you like their Facebook page!
And, have a Happy Easter!