The Fifty Year Rehabilitation of the Egg
2. The Egg Industry Responds
3. Speaking with One Voice
4. A New Approach
- Nutritional Value of Eggs: It is widely recognized that eggs are a highly nutritious food based on their high quality protein and compliment of vitamins and minerals . Eggs are one of the most widely available economical sources of animal protein. In addition, many of the nutrients in eggs can be increased by altering the hen’s diet (Se, vitamin E, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, xanthophylls and folate to name just a few). Due to the recommendation to eat no more than three whole eggs per week, and in some parts of Central and South America no more than two eggs per week, those in the lower socioeconomic classes have been scared away from an affordable source of high quality nutrition. It made little sense to restrict a highly nutritious food from the diets of those with sub-optimal nutrient intake whose main health issue was not the over consumption prevalent in the US. This became more obvious when considering the nutritional needs of growing children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
- Egg Protein and Satiety: Egg protein, especially egg yolk protein, has a significantly greater satiety effect than other protein sources [14,15]. Studies have shown reduced caloric intake after an egg breakfast compared to a bagel breakfast , greater weight loss over 8 weeks with an egg as compared to a bagel breakfast as part of a hypocaloric diet , and larger changes in satiety hormones with an egg breakfast . The five decade long shift from eggs for breakfast to carbohydrate rich cereals might not have been the best approach to weight maintenance and probably contributed to our national obesity problem.
- Egg Protein and Sarcopenia: There are a number of factors which can impact the dietary availability of high quality animal protein for seniors: availability, affordability, preparation limits, and ease of chewing and digesting. Affordable sources of high-quality animal protein in the diet, especially eggs that are widely available and easy to cook, chew and digest, are of significant importance for growth and development in children as well as for reducing the rate of sarcopenia and maintaining lean muscle tissue mass in the elderly . After 40 plus years of hearing about the dangers of egg cholesterol, many seniors studiously avoid eggs, probably to their detriment .
- Egg Xanthophylls: Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Eggs provide highly bioavailable forms of the xanthophylls lutein and zeaxanthin which are related to lower risks for age-related macular degeneration and cataracts [21,22,23,24] as well as some types of cancer [22,25] and carotid artery atherosclerosis . Studies showed that egg lutein had high bioavailability  and that adding eggs to the diet could result in significant increases in macular pigment optical density [23,24]. What continues to make this line of investigation so intriguing is that the levels of lutein and zeaxanthin in an egg can easily be increased up to ten-fold by adding marigold extract to the hens’ feed. In fact, today lutein enriched eggs are available in many parts of the world.
- Egg Choline: Eggs are an excellent source of choline , an essential nutrient which has been shown to be inadequate in the diets of 9 out of 10 adults in the U.S. Choline plays an important role in fetal and neonatal brain development  and inadequate choline intake during pregnancy increases the risk for neural tube defects such as spina bifida . Choline intake is also associated with decreased plasma levels of homocysteine and inflammatory factors, which are related to increased cardiovascular disease risk . Recent studies have also shown that high intake of choline is associated with reduced breast cancer incidence and mortality [31,32]. Unfortunately, studies also show that a majority of the population, including a majority of pregnant and lactating women, do not have adequate choline intakes and that adding an egg a day to the diet could alleviate this inadequacy . The importance of choline in fetal and neonatal brain development has been shown in numerous studies and inadequate choline intakes during these critical periods can have very negative effects [34,35,36].
- The egg industry also supported a series of studies looking at the chronic and acute effects of egg intake on endothelial function in a variety of patients and found no evidence of adverse effects with daily egg ingestion on any cardiac risk factors in normolipidemic and hyperlipidemic adults or in adults with CVD [37,38,39].
5. An Outdated Hypothesis Slowly Put to Rest
Conflicts of Interest
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McNamara, D.J. The Fifty Year Rehabilitation of the Egg. Nutrients 2015, 7, 8716-8722. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7105429
McNamara DJ. The Fifty Year Rehabilitation of the Egg. Nutrients. 2015; 7(10):8716-8722. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7105429Chicago/Turabian Style
McNamara, Donald J. 2015. "The Fifty Year Rehabilitation of the Egg" Nutrients 7, no. 10: 8716-8722. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7105429