Eggs – Why All the Confusion?

By Jennifer Laity

For decades we were told that eggs were somehow a mistake of nature that we should avoid, in particular the yolk in the middle, which is loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat, raising our risk for heart disease. While high cholesterol has been shown to increase risk for heart disease, we now know that the cholesterol in eggs has very little impact.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large egg has 186 mg of cholesterol and about 5 grams of fat, 1.6 of which is saturated fat. This information alone can steer you away; however, the egg also has many health benefits: a good source of protein (6.5g); 11 vitamins and minerals; the disease-fighting carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin; and, omega-3 fatty acids (1).

The egg white has been considered an innocent bystander in the health debate since it includes about 60% of the protein in an egg, without all the fat and cholesterol. Surprisingly, the ‘villainous’ egg yolk is actually the most nutrient dense part of the egg, which makes sense since it is the primary food source for a developing chick, if the egg was actually fertilized.

So now the research has finally shown that humans prior to 1960 were not mistaken by including whole eggs in their diets. The cholesterol we eat in our diet has very little impact on the cholesterol level in our blood and we now understand the important role that cholesterol has in cell membrane health: insulates nerve cells, manufactures vitamin D, and produces sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone) and cortisol (2). The saturated fats in our diet have been shown to cause a mild increase in cholesterol levels; however, the increase seems to be in the good HDL-cholesterol and in the larger-size (benign) LDL-cholesterol particles (3), which can ultimately lower your risk for heart disease.

Now, if you choose to eat eggs, it is important to consider the health of the chicken that your egg comes from. Not only for animal welfare concerns, but from a health benefit perspective. Chickens are by nature omnivores that eat grasses, seeds, grains, worms, grubs and insects while roaming outside. The conditions that 99% of our laying hens in this country are raised in, is far from this original design. Since most of us don’t have the ability or desire to raise our own laying hens, we have to choose from the mind-boggling array of egg cartons labeled cage-free, free-range, vegetarian-fed, organic, omega-3 enriched, or pasture-raised on our grocery store shelves. What does it all mean?

Cage-free and free-range imply that the hens spend at least some of their time outdoors, however, it typically means that, while they are not confined to cages, they spend their lives in large barns packed in with hundreds of other hens. The ‘organic’ label ensures no GM products, glyphosate or synthetic fertilizers were used in the feed. The ‘omega-3 enriched’ label means a vegetarian source of omega-3, such as flax seed, was added to the diet, although the omega-3 content from a hen allowed to eat their natural diet is usually higher. While the ‘pasture-raised’ label is not regulated to define the amount of outdoor time hens are allowed, it does mean they at least saw the light of day and had the chance to be an omnivore, which has been shown to increase the level of omega-3s as well as vitamins A, D, and E in these eggs (4). While the color of the egg shell (i.e. white, brown, green) has no impact on the nutrient content, you will generally find the higher quality eggs have a thicker shell, firmer egg white and darker yellow yolk, and many people claim they taste better.

In general, free-range organic or organic pasture-raised eggs are more expensive, but mean greater peace of mind when it comes to the treatment of the hens and the quality of the eggs you are eating. If you can’t afford either of these options, then go for the cheapest eggs since none of the other classifications have a significant impact on the health of the hen or the egg. Eggs have always been, and still are, a nutrient dense, whole food that can be included in a healthy diet.

 

Resources:
1. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/112
2. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/67/5/828.short
3. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract
4. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=92

About the Author:
Jennifer received her Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Gerontology Certificate from the University of Georgia and her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Hayward. She is an ACSM Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Certified Health Fitness Specialist. Besides working for BaySport, Jennifer has worked as an exercise physiologist at Duke University’s Center for Living, and was a graduate assistant in the Cardiac Rehab and Adult Fitness program at the University of Georgia. In her 15+ years with BaySport, Jennifer has been providing wellness programming and counseling, fitness center management, personal training, group exercise class instruction, health screenings, and fitness testing. In her free time she enjoys playing almost any sport and enjoying the great outdoors.

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

By Sheri Berger, RDN

Protein needs is a hot topic these days and there is a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there.  My goal is to clear up much of the confusion by discussing the importance of protein and common claims, and how much we need.
Importance of Protein/Common Claims
You might have heard that protein can help to speed up metabolism and burn fat and calories. Technically, this is true, but it may not amount to as much magic as you would like. In studies, scientists have found you may speed up your metabolism by eating more protein, but it may take a year or two for those extra calories to add up to a pound of weight loss. Sure, every bit of weight loss counts, but it might not be as dramatic as you were expecting.
Eating more protein helps you to lose weight. This is true when you are cutting calories too. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and it does not spike blood sugar levels – both can help you to feel satisfied for a longer period of time. You still need to be aware of total calories and make cutbacks elsewhere.
Eating more protein will help you to build muscle. This is true, but it may not take as much protein as you may think. In a recent study, researchers fed people steak then measured the rate that people synthesized muscle after the meal. Muscle synthesis increased by 50% after people ate the meal, but there was no difference in the synthesis when comparing 4 ounces versus 12 ounces of steak.
How much protein do we need?
 
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) will tell you how much your body requires. You will see that this recommendation may be far off from what you hear from other sources. To calculate the RDA, first you need to know your weight in kilograms. Simply divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. Then multiply that number by 0.8. For example, the RDA for a person who weighs 150 pounds:
150/2.2 = 68 kilograms
68 x 0.8 = 54 grams of protein per day
If you feel better eating more protein and/or are athletic, you can eat more protein. I would recommend not exceeding more than 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or approximately 1/3 of your calorie needs. A very simple way to calculate this would be to aim for 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, then your maximum intake of protein can be 150 grams per day.
About the Author:
Sheri Berger is a Registered Dietitian having completed her B.S. in Food/Nutrition & Dietetics and a dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. Sheri has a diverse professional background that includes hospital and outpatient clinic support, preventative wellness programs, corporate wellness services, cardiovascular disease management, and working with seniors. Sheri enjoys engaging her clients in pursuit of their personal wellness goals and leading by example with her healthy lifestyle. Sheri has been certified in adult weight management since 2005. She belongs to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, California Dietetics Association, and the San Jose Peninsula District of the CDA. Sheri enjoys spending her free time with her husband and two daughters and she loves to run marathons.

BaySport Nutrition Tip by Sheri Berger, RDN – Smart Snacks

As preparations for the new school year begins, an important decision is what to pack for lunch. BaySport’s Nutrition Coach, Sheri Berger, RDN (Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist) shares a health tip for the entire family, whether they’re going to school or work.

Choosing SMART SNACKS throughout the day will help to keep you energized, focused, happy, and provide steady blood sugar. Choosing less quality snacks will do the opposite. SMART SNACKS provide fiber, lean protein, quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and around 150-200 calories. Here are some great choices:

NUT OPTIONS:
• Two tablespoons of all natural peanut butter with 6 celery sticks
• One tablespoon of nut butter with a medium apple, banana, or other fruit
• One tablespoon of nut butter with 8-10 whole grain crackers
• ½ peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread with apple or banana slices
• 8-10 walnuts or almonds with a medium apple or other fruit

BEAN & LEGUME OPTIONS:
• ¼ cup of beans, 1 tablespoon of cheese, and salsa on a whole grain tortilla
• ½ cup of hummus or black bean dip with cut up vegetables (carrots, celery, mini peppers, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, jicama)
• ¼ cup of hummus on whole wheat pita bread
• ½ cup of roasted garbanzo beans with 10 cherry tomatoes

DAIRY & EGGS:
• String cheese or one ounce of other cheese and a piece of fruit
• One cup of plain low-fat yogurt with ground flaxseeds and 3-4 strawberries
• One cup of plain Greek yogurt with two tablespoons granola and one teaspoon agave nectar or honey
• Two tablespoons goat cheese, dill, and tomatoes on a piece of whole grain bread
• ½ cup of cottage cheese with chopped fruit (berries, nectarines, peaches, etc.)
• Once hardboiled egg with a rice cake or whole grain crackers

MEAT & FISH:
• 1/2 can tuna or salmon with 5-8 whole grain crackers
• Three romaine lettuce wraps with nitrate-free cold cuts or other lean meat
• Two ounces smoked salmon on a rice cake or three whole grain crackers
• Six shrimp with cocktail sauce, celery, and carrots
• Two ounces of beef, turkey, or salmon jerky with cucumber slices

 

Learn more about Sheri Berger, RDN:
Sheri Berger is a Registered Dietitian having completed her B.S. in Food/Nutrition & Dietetics and a dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. Sheri has a diverse professional background that includes hospital and outpatient clinic support, preventative wellness programs, corporate wellness services, cardiovascular disease management, and working with seniors. Sheri enjoys engaging her clients in pursuit of their personal wellness goals and leading by example with her healthy lifestyle. Sheri has been certified in adult weight management since 2005. She belongs to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, California Dietetics Association, and the San Jose Peninsula District of the CDA. Sheri enjoys spending her free time with her husband and two daughters and she loves to run marathons.