The recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, encourages the consumption of nutrient-dense foods and beverages, which are identified as being vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds. In addition, key recommendations are to consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and to consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
The good news is that eggs and egg products are all that and more. For starters, more than two-thirds of the fatty acids in eggs are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. They also contain no trans-fatty acids, something the Guidelines say to avoid entirely. Further, according to new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition data, eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously thought.
USDA recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs and results show the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, 12% lower than previously recorded. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D, an increase of 64%. Vitamin D is necessary for optimal bone health and has been identified as a nutrient lacking in the American diet.
“We collected a random sample of regular large shell eggs from 12 locations across the country to analyze the nutrient content of eggs,” says Dr. Jacob Exler, nutritionist with the Nutrient Data Laboratory at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Washington, D.C. “This testing procedure was last completed with eggs in 2002, and while most nutrients remained similar to those values, cholesterol decreased by 12% and vitamin D increased by 64% from 2002 values.”
The new nutrient information will be updated on nutrition labels to reflect these changes wherever eggs are sold, from egg cartons in supermarkets to school and restaurant menus. Prepared foods formulators should also update their data base, as this may change the Nutrition Facts label on products formulated with egg products, making them more appealing to discerning consumers.
Some researchers believe the natural decrease in the cholesterol level of eggs could be related to healthful improvements hen farmers have made to feed. Regardless, egg products are now more attractive than ever to formulators who want to develop nutrient-dense foods based on simple, natural ingredients.
Visit USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference website for current nutrient analysis of various egg products at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/