Did you know May is considered National Egg Month? Although often avoided, eggs are a tremendously “nutrient dense” food. Eggs are a complete source of protein and contain more than 20 nutrients. This also includes two important carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are associated with reducing risks of macular degeneration that can lead to blindness.
Each large egg contains 6 grams of protein and is a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients — all this health boosting goodness for just 70 calories! Because of their nutrient content, eggs can play a role in weight management, muscle strength, brain function and more. Unless you have an egg allergy, the proteins contained in the egg white are easily digested. This food comes with a double protein blast, as the egg yolk contains half the protein, making it important to eat the whole egg.
If you are looking to build muscle mass, eggs can be a low-calorie helper. Eggs contain all the essential amino acids. As a lean protein that doesn’t make you feel “weighted-down” after eating, eggs meet nutritional and health benchmarks.
The affordability of eggs is also easy on the food budget. Step out of the typical breakfast use of eggs and consider adding them to lunch or dinner options. As a lean protein, eggs can serve special dietary needs as well. This includes diabetics and those with cardiovascular issues. The American Heart Association began a program in 1995 to help those with cardiovascular issues identify “heart-healthy” choices. The heart-check symbol on eggs mark them as a good health choice.
Recent research has well documented the benefits of choline found in eggs. One of these is the benefit to pregnant women and their developing child. Studies show a lasting cognitive benefit for children. Choline is important throughout the lifespan, but it is especially critical during pregnancy and lactation to support the baby’s brain development. A single egg provides 150 mg of choline, 252 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin linked to brain development as well as vision.
Likewise, research is showing growing evidence regular consumption of eggs reduces cognitive decline. In a new study including people between the ages of 50-80 years old, those consuming eggs on a regular basic had marked reduction in cognitive decline (as compared to those with low egg consumption). This study is unique not only because it evaluated memory over time (instead of just one point in time) but also because it evaluated the impact of eggs alone, with adjustment for other foods in the diet. Eggs serve the aging who generally have lower calorie requirements but increased nutrient needs.
So how many eggs are safe to eat daily? According to the American Heart Association, consuming two large eggs daily is a safe range. So, crack that shell! Enjoy your favorite egg dishes or explore new avenues.
Dr. Dianna Richardson has been serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities for more than 22 years. She has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for over 30 years. Core to her practice remains use of nutrition to improve health, vitality and quality of life. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master’s degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
MEXICAN RICE & BEANS BAKED EGGS
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon each dried cumin, thyme, chili powder
¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper
1 cup canned black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups cooked rice
½ cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
¼ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lime juice
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Heat oil in ovenproof skillet set over medium heat. Cook onion, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, thyme, chili powder, salt and pepper for about 5 minutes or until onion starts to soften.
Stir in black beans and corn until well coated. Stir in tomatoes; bring to boil. Stir in rice.
Make 4 small divots in rice mixture with spoon; crack egg into each divot. Transfer to oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until egg whites are set and yolks are cooked to desired doneness. Sprinkle with parsley.
Stir together sour cream, lime zest and juice. drizzle over rice and eggs.