Nutrition Unscrambled

Eggs are Nutrient-Rich; an Egg-A-Day is OK

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
January 27th, 2011

As a registered dietitian I’ve always been asked about “healthy foods”. I know at parties people watch what I take from the buffet table and feel a little uncomfortable eating decadent foods when I’m around. This is strange since my philosophy is to enjoy foods but make a diet of those which supply the most nutrients whenever possible.

This is why I was happy to see the list of “The 10 most healthy foods” posted last week on the HealthKicker blog. This list offers a reasonable list of foods that are both delicious and nutrient rich. The list doesn’t mention only trendy foods that are examples of good marketing but instead foods that have stood the test of time. On the list are berries, dark leafy vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, dairy, beans/legumes, nuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and eggs. Not very radical but reasonable, these foods won’t make you stand out at parties but will help supply the nutrients needed for maintaining good health. In fact, just recently my youngest child who is now officially an adult came home from college and remarked at dinner that he never noticed that I always cook “healthy”. By this he meant, I offer a variety of vegetables at meals and I rarely fry foods or use gravies. I consider it a success that it took so long for him to notice that this was different than what he observed others eating. He hasn’t suffered, but learned to enjoy foods and preparations that are naturally healthy.

 I mentioned trendy foods and this is a point worth repeating.  HealthKicker blog points out the various reasons natural foods are full of nutrients. For example, the nutritional content of an egg as a source of high-quality protein, choline, lutein and zeaxanthin is mentioned in relation to the role in pregnancy, eye health and the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.  This is very timely information considering the upcoming release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines which is our government’s guidance for getting adequate nutrition from the American food supply. In fact, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded in their scientific report that the consumption of one egg a day is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in health adults. Now that’s a food trend that good to see is back in style.

- Marcia

Whole Eggs vs. Egg Whites

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
January 25th, 2011

 I recently saw an article of interest on Yahoo!, Eggs: Whites vs. Yolks, stating the pros and cons of eating and baking with egg whites versus the entire egg. While the writers provide some valuable information regarding the functionality of whites and yolks in prepared dishes, their comment to eat egg yolks in moderation does not tell the whole story. One whole egg provides more than six grams of protein, or 13 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV), and nearly half of the protein is found in the yolk. Eggs are also an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient especially important during pregnancy. However, choline is found exclusively in the egg yolks. Egg yolks are one of the few foods naturally containing vitamin D. They also contain two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, that may help to prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related blindness. The chart below highlights the nutritional content of one large, whole egg versus the egg white from one large egg:

Additionally, the USDA recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs, and results show the average amount of cholesterol in one Grade A, large egg is 185 mg, 14 percent lower than previously reported on nutrition labels.

Don’t get me wrong- -adding egg whites to a meal or an egg dish (e.g., a three egg omelet with two whole eggs and an egg white) is an excellent way to add more high quality protein to your diet without a lot of extra calories. But to gain the full benefit of the excellent nutrition that an egg provides, the whole egg is the way to go.  

- Mitch

Whole Foods nutrient-profiling system

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
January 21st, 2011

Last week, the AP posted an article detailing some changes Whole Foods will be making this year to emphasize health in their stores. The article, Whole Foods makes changes to emphasize health, indicates that they will be posting nutritional scorecards around the markets to help consumers with their food purchase decisions.

On the surface a healthy food score seems like a great help for the hurried and health concerned shopper. The problem is that foods are not inherently healthy but should be put together in a meal to supply most of the individual’s nutrient needs. From the point of view of selling products, foods can be made healthier if they contain more beneficial nutrients and less of the nutrients most people in the US consume in excess which is associated with increased disease risk. What doesn’t connect is the use of food rating systems based on population health risk statistics applied to an individual’s health. For example, I happen to have low blood pressure, a family inheritance. Sodium may not be a nutrient of concern for my personal health. However, a supermarket score includes negative and positive factors relating to population health can mislead me into thinking that my personal health would be improved by consuming a low sodium product. In this case, I may avoid cheese when in fact, I may benefit from the calcium in cheese. This is especially true for another nutrient rich food like an egg. No one disputes that egg protein is one of the highest quality proteins of any food. However, recent research findings indicate that there are hyper-responders and hypo-responders to dietary cholesterol. Hypo-responders (2/3 the population) don’t have any serum cholesterol response when they consume eggs. The hyper-responders (1/3 the population) do appear to have some small elevation of their serum cholesterol however, not enough to significantly increase health disease risk. So, should we all avoid the nutrient benefits of an egg because some members of the population see an increase in their serum cholesterol levels? Wouldn’t my health suffer by missing out on the high quality protein in an egg? In the Whole Foods scoring system eggs receive (27 out of 1000) in relation to egg whites (29 out of 1000) and egg substitute (30 out of 1000). In fact, there are many more nutrients which are needed for proper functioning of our bodies in the whole egg than if we extract the egg yolk and simply eat the egg white or egg substitute.

The fact is we all do need to eat, and eating a balance of nutrients from all foods in a moderate amount is healthy. Do food ratings based on a public health statistical advantage really relate to an individual’s health? And, by depriving yourself of the other nutrients that may also be needed and are found in the lower scoring foods are you really doing yourself good? (By the way, do we know what nutrients the Whole Foods experts consider healthy or unhealthy? What health outcomes do they use to decide how healthy a food is?)

A better way to approach meal planning is to seek balance and concentrate on the positive. Enjoy eating foods that have the most nutrients known to be needed by our bodies. Try to include members of all food groups in every meal and enjoy new foods and combinations of foods regularly but in a moderate portion size. For those who do want a guide for selecting the most nutrient rich foods I recommend The Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition profiling system:

Nutrition profiling of foods is defined as the science of ranking or classifying foods based on their nutrient composition5. Adam Drewnowski, PhD of the University of Washington, and Victor Fulgoni, PhD of Nutrition Impact, LLC, defined six guiding principles to develop and evaluate nutrient profiling systems, based on their work published in Nutrition Reviews 5. The principles include:

  1. Objective: Based on accepted nutrition science and labeling practices.
  2. Simple: Based on published daily values and meaningful amounts of food.
  3. Balanced: Based on nutrients to encourage and nutrients to limit.
  4. Validated: Tested against an objective measure of a healthful diet.
  5. Transparent: Based on published formulas and open-source data.
  6. Consumer-driven: Based on consumer research to help guide better food choices and help people build more healthful diets.

Published Research Review the extensive scientific research studies and reports in support of the Nutrient Rich Foods approach and have been published in peer-reviewed journals. You can view videos and presentations from experts who support the Nutrient Rich Foods approach and participated in the 2008 Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition Scientific Forum and the 2009 “Achieve Better Health with Nutrient Rich Foods Symposium”

Breakfast is important; tips for making it nutritious

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
January 19th, 2011

An article posted the other day in the Washington Post, Consumer Reports Insights: Breakfast is important; tips for making it nutritious, discusses the importance of the breakfast meal. With respect to eggs, the author states, “…having (eggs) at breakfast helps dieters lose weight … possibly because they’re so filling that they reduce the chance of overeating later. People with normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol who limit their intake of saturated fat can safely eat up to seven eggs a week; those with high LDL should limit themselves to four, or use egg whites or an egg substitute.” Recent research conducted at the University of Connecticut and Louisiana State University, among other places, supports the author’s contentions.

In addition, newer data from the University of Illinois indicates not only the importance of eating breakfast, but also the importance of consuming adequate protein during the breakfast meal to support muscle growth and repair. The typical American eating pattern consists of marginal protein intake at breakfast and lunch, with the largest amount of protein consumed doing the dinner meal. Researchers suggest that protein intake should be spread more evenly throughout the day, with similar quantities (some say as much as 30g per meal) consumed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eggs are a great way to ensure optimal protein intake during the breakfast meal.

Another Welcome to Nutrition Over Easy!

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
January 13th, 2011

Welcome to Nutrition Over Easy, a new blog where seasoned health and nutrition professionals will give their perspective on current nutrition issues of the day. My name is Marcia Greenblum, and – in addition to being a Registered Dietitian for 30 years – I am the Senior Director of Nutrition Education at ENC. My role is to communicate somewhat complex scientific research findings into language that is understandable and actionable. A large part of my role is to monitor developments in the field of nutrition including food and health trends, government policy and regulations, research conclusions or misunderstandings and bring that information to health practitioners. The health practitioner; dietitian, nurse practitioner, physician or physician assistant, is often asked to offer dietary guidance and I try to supply the information they need and clear up misperceptions especially concerning foods like eggs. It is my hope that no one is given inappropriate advice or told to avoid foods that are natural sources of healthy nutrients and everyone is able to make informed choices.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting on Nutrition Over Easy about many different topics, including:

Nutrition in context: How to fit recent scientific findings into a long term healthy diet and lifestyle. What makes sense and what seems like a passing fad, what are the risks vs. the benefits of adhering to certain dietary patterns? I’ll offer the perspective of someone who has participated in experimental research, clinical practice, academia and industry in addition to raising 3 children while working full time.

In addition to enjoying scientific meetings and healthcare professional conferences both for my role with ENC and for professional development, I have always enjoyed cooking and felt comforted when involved with food and its preparation. My husband and I travel extensively and enjoy exploring the best in traditional cuisine as well as the latest in restaurant innovation.

I’m excited to be a contributor to this blog, and I’m looking forward to your feedback and questions!

Welcome to Nutrition Over Easy!

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
January 11th, 2011

Greetings and welcome to the Egg Nutrition Center’s brand new blog Nutrition Over Easy. My name is Mitch Kanter, and I am the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. Over the coming weeks, months and (hopefully!) years, this blog will be a growing resource aimed at providing credible information on nutrition topics and related scientific developments and research.

First a little about the Egg Nutrition Center (ENC) and my role: ENC has been in existence for almost 30 years, and is funded by egg producers from across the United States. The mission of ENC is to serve as a credible resource of nutrition and health information, and as the undisputed leader in research and nutrition information related to eggs. ENC funds more than $1 million dollars per year in nutrition science research, and in 2011 we have earmarked almost $2 million dollars for research. We work with leading researchers at many of the top academic institutions in the U.S. 

 My role at ENC is to oversee the research and education programs that we develop and disseminate. With a great staff of seasoned health professionals on board, two external technical advisory boards at our disposal, as well as access to the various researchers with whom we collaborate, overseeing our programs is an enjoyable, educational and rewarding experience. Not only do I learn something new almost every day, I also get the opportunity to travel the country to attend and speak at scientific and lay meetings and conferences on a regular basis. 

When I’m not working at ENC I enjoy spending time with my family (my wife, 3 kids, a dog and a rabbit!). We’re an active family and we enjoy participating in and watching most any sport. Living in Minnesota that generally means hockey for my kids, though they also participate in soccer, baseball, basketball and whatever else seems to be in season at the moment.   

Along with my colleagues and future guests, I am very excited to be a contributor to this blog, and I look forward to getting to know many of you!

 Take care for now.


Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Egg Nutrition Center
Park Ridge, Illinois


Nutrition Unscrambled  is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs. For more information, click here.

About the Bloggers

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about
Mitch, click here.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD is the Senior Director, Nutrition Education at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Marcia, click here.
Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN is the Program Manager, Nutrition Research and Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Anna, click here.

Upcoming ENC Activities


All information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and it is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or before making changes to your diet or health behaviors.