As a dietitian, I spend a lot of time defending the egg, trying to reverse the damage that has been done to the egg’s reputation over the past several years. As a health professional I have the opportunity to clarify misconceptions and provide people with evidence-based information and recommendations regarding eggs, cholesterol and heart health.
We now know that the blood level of cholesterol rises just slightly from eating foods that contain cholesterol. Saturated fat and trans fat are the types of fat that have the biggest effect on blood cholesterol levels by encouraging the liver to produce more cholesterol.
One egg contains about 75 calories, 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat and 1.7 grams of saturated fat along with 13 essential vitamins and minerals and carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are believed to help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. The amount of cholesterol in a single large egg has decreased by 14 percent from 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition data. Eggs now contain an additional 41 international units of vitamin D, which is an increase of 64 percent from 2002. Eggs are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of vitamin D, meaning that one egg provides at least 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption, helping to form and maintain strong bones. Brain development and memory are enhanced by the choline content of eggs.
Eggs as a satisfying source of protein
In addition to the nutrition benefits, eggs also help keep you feeling full. Research published in the European Journal of Nutrition last month showed the effect of three breakfast meals on satiety, hunger and subsequent intake of energy. The three breakfast choices were eggs and toast, corn flakes with milk and toast, or a croissant and orange juice. The results were that participants showed increased satiety, less hunger and a lower desire to eat after the breakfast that contained eggs relative to the cereal or croissant meals. The egg breakfast was also accompanied by a significantly lower intake of energy at lunch and evening meal. The breakfast meal with the greatest effect on satiety and subsequent intake of energy was distinct in having the highest protein and lowest carbohydrate content relative to the other two breakfasts.
Eggs are easy to eat, they are well tolerated by most people young or old, are inexpensive and can fit into any meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Be sure to cook eggs thoroughly to avoid salmonella. Salmonella can enter eggs through tiny pores in the eggshell. By cooking an egg thoroughly, to a temperature of 160 degrees, the salmonella issue can be avoided.
Makes 4 servings
A frittata is Italian for a flat omelet. You can fill it with a variety of vegetables and cheese for a quick lunch, brunch or evening meal. This is a great way to use up some of that zucchini from the garden. Recipe from Eating Well magazine.
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup diced zucchini
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup grape tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup slivered fresh mint
¼ cup slivered fresh basil
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
5 large eggs
⅓ cup crumbled goat or feta cheese, (2 ounces)
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and onion; cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender, but not mushy, 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes, mint, basil, ⅛ teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper; increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the moisture has evaporated, 30-60 seconds.
Whisk eggs, the remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper in a large bowl until blended. Add the zucchini mixture and cheese; stir to combine.
Preheat the broiler.
Wipe out the pan and brush it with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil; place over medium-low heat. Add the frittata mixture and cook, without stirring, until the bottom is light golden, 2-4 minutes. As it cooks, lift the edges and tilt the pan so uncooked egg will flow to the edges.
Place the pan under the broiler and broil until the frittata is set and the top is golden, 1½ to 2½ minutes. Loosen the edges and slide onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 188 calories; 14 grams fat (5 g sat , 6 g mono); 222 milligrams cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrates; 11 g protein; 1.5 g fiber; 295 mg sodium; 285 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: vitamin A (20 percent daily value), vitamin C (20 percent), iron (13 percent), folate (11 percent), calcium (10 percent).
Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian and adjunct nutrition instructor at Eastern Maine Community College who lives in Athens. Read more of her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.