Eggs Across The Lifespan

Eggs contain a number of nutrients that are essential throughout the lifespan:

  • High-quality protein contains building blocks needed to support healthy bones and muscles. Research suggests that exercise, along with optimal protein intake, can slow the effects of sarcopenia or chronic age-related muscle loss.
  • Choline is essential for normal liver function and brain health. It is especially important during pregnancy to support normal fetal growth and development, and most pregnant women do not consume adequate amounts of choline. Consuming eggs during pregnancy is one solution to choline consumption issues.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

Planning Ahead for Schedule-Friendly Meals and Snacks

Our blog post comes from one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors, Serena Ball, MS, RD.  Serena is a registered dietitian and mother of four in Chicago. She blogs at

Today is my daughter’s first day of second grade – but it seems we’ve been getting ready for weeks. She’s tried on clothes from last year to see what fits, there’s a pan of homemade lasagna in the freezer, and we attempted to get to bed a little earlier. While your kids may have been hearing school bells for weeks – and some have yet to start school – it’s not Labor Day yet; and in my mind, by that time us moms are supposed to have the school routine down pat. So as you endeavor toward this goal, here are a few tips on planning ahead to fuel your family with nutritious meals and snacks:

Pack lunches the night before – Morning rushes can be too crazy for lunch box assembly. But a little time spent on prepping appetizing kids’ lunches means the difference between healthy foods nourishing their bellies and lunch tossed in the trash. If they pack it, they will eat it. So at the beginning of the week, mom can portion out munchies in zip-top sandwich bags or reusable containers; store in a bin in the refrigerator or pantry. Then throughout the week, have kids pull out the bins to mix and match their lunch box assembly from these options:

  • Protein power: Kid-sized Greek Yogurt, nut butters, lean lunch meats, string cheese, hard boiled eggs with egg slicer
  • Whole grains: Whole wheat tortilla or pita bread, whole grain crackers, whole wheat bread, reusable containers of whole wheat couscous or brown rice
  • Varied veggies: Celery or carrot sticks with mild salsa dip, cucumber slices with hummus dip, shredded carrots to top sandwiches
  • Fruit fun: Sliced apples, grapes, canned peaches/pears, trail mix of dried cranberries/cherries/raisins and nuts

Plan at least three dinners per week over the weekend – Used the weekend to plan, shop for and even begin some of the prep (like chopping vegetables) for several healthy dinners per week. When time is tight the other nights – or schedules change – fill in with super-quick dinner options like sandwiches or scrambled eggs.

muffin fritattas

Your freezer is your friend – If you don’t have big plans over Labor Day, fill your freezer with simple meal solutions that will save time later:

  • Brown ground beef/turkey – Just brown, drain the fat, refrigerate until cool and freeze in zip-tip plastic bags for use in chili, soup, tacos, frittatas.
  • Chop onions, peppers or celery – These veggies freeze well and sautéing them can be a jump-start to almost any recipe.
  • Cook up meals for instant meals – Make and freeze a pot of soup, pasta sauce, lasagna, or one of my favorite grab-and-microwave-and-go breakfasts: The kids will enjoy their “Egg muffins”, i.e. muffin frittatas.




Dietary Protein Needs Across the Lifecycle

Today’s post comes from Dr. Donald Layman. Dr. Layman is the Director of Research at the Egg Nutrition Center and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois and a leading researcher studying dietary needs for protein and amino acids.

Dietary protein provides the amino acid building blocks to make new proteins. It’s easy to recognize the importance of protein for children, but new research reveals that dietary protein may be even more important for older adults. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) published a Position Paper in the August issue of the Journal highlighting the importance of the amount and distribution of protein at individual meals for healthy aging. The new research defines the need for older adults to consume 25 to 30 g of protein at multiple meals each day with emphasis on the need for protein at breakfast.

Nearly 50 million Americans are over the age of 65. With life expectancy reaching 90, disability is the #1 health liability for adults. Nearly 50% of adults > 65 years old exhibit disability. Reduced physical activity contributes to weight gain characterized as increased body fat and loss of muscle. Age-related loss of muscle is called sarcopenia and a primary contributor to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis in adults.

Current dietary guidelines for protein focus on consuming the minimum RDA for protein of 0.8 g/kg body weight with no mention of meal distribution. New research suggests that adults may need 1.0 to 1.6 g/kg of protein and with a minimum of 30 g at each meal. This meal threshold for protein arises from the specific requirement for essential amino acids to repair and replace proteins in muscle. In children and young adults, synthesis of muscle protein is driven by hormones, physical activity, and a good diet. However, when growth ends, adults must maintain muscle without the metabolic advantage of growth hormones and many adults reduce physical activity. These age-related changes emphasize the need for dietary protein.

The average American consumes < 12 g of protein at breakfast, often < 20 g at lunch, and > 65 g at dinner. Any meal that contains < 25 g of protein provides no benefit to muscles and essentially wastes the protein in the meal. Dietary advice for older adults needs to recognize the protein threshold at meals and modify eating patterns to shift protein to meals early in the day.


School Nutrition Professionals Think Outside the Shell

Donna Martin, EdS, RD, LD, SNS and Director School Nutrition Program for the Burke County Board of Education, and I spoke to a group of energetic school nutrition professionals at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference (ANC) last week. The room was at capacity with 240 people coming to hear our talk, “Thinking Outside the Shell for Exceptional School Meals and Performance” (sorry to those who couldn’t fit in the room).

How exactly do you think outside of the shell? Start with breakfast, of course! I started out by talking about the new nutrition standards for school meals. In addition, I reviewed the fact that childhood hunger is prevalent, and that if children miss breakfast, it can be hard for them to make up key vitamins and minerals the rest of the day.

Donna went on to explain her efforts with the program providing breakfast in the classroom in her district. She has been very successful in her Georgia schools. Below are some key points from her presentation.

How does breakfast in the classroom affect student performance?

  • More positive attitude towards school
  • Less likely to be tardy
  • Less likely to miss class
  • Improved math and reading scores
  • Fewer reported  discipline problems

What makes a great breakfast for schools?

  • Offers a variety of foods students like
  • Easy to prepare
  • Increases participation
  • Meets National School Breakfast Guidelines
  • Affordable to produce

Donna also showed many photos of breakfast successes, like Sunny Face Eggs (above), and the audience had wonderful questions regarding implementing breakfast in the classroom.

SNA ANC was a great experience. I was able to sit in on sessions and see what school nutrition professionals were doing to improve school meals even more. Plus, the exhibit hall was full of products to sample that met the new school nutrition guidelines. I was able to try a Homestyle French Toast that used eggs to provide 1 meat/meat alternative as well as 1 grain from whole wheat flour.

Promoting Men’s Health All Year

As we say goodbye to June and National Men’s Health Month, it is important to keep the guys motivated to stay healthy throughout the year.  National Men’s Health Month does a great job of raising awareness around this important issue, so let’s put that awareness into action!

As a practitioner, how do you encourage your male patients to schedule regular visits?  Once they are in your office, what is the most effective way to discuss their diet and overall health?

When it comes to diet, protein is an important nutrient. Research indicates that high-quality protein may help active adults build muscle strength and middle-aged and aging adults prevent muscle loss. Consuming protein following exercise is a great way to get the most benefits from exercise by encouraging muscle tissue repair and growth.

Here is an article that discusses some of the research and tips for including protein as part of a healthy diet.  Perhaps starting with a healthy breakfast with a great source of protein like eggs can be a goal for every guy (and gal)!

Remember a synonym for diet is nourishment.  Nourish your bodies!

Elevating Awareness and Intake of Choline: An Essential Nutrient for Public Health (article review)

By: Kasia Ciaston

Today we have another blog by our Dietetic Intern Kasia Ciaston.

Early research conducted on choline from the 1930’s established the link between low choline and liver/muscle damage. Since then, choline has been deemed as an essential nutrient and the latest evidence demonstrates the increased significance of choline throughout the lifecycle.  Data collectedby the 2005 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that 90% of the U.S. population was consuming less than adequate amounts of dietary choline.  Although choline is produced internally, there are sub-populations with increased requirements due to genetic variations. A recent article in Nutrition Today explains emerging research demonstrating the vitality of choline consumption at all stages of life.


Choline requirements during pregnancy and lactation are particularly high. Choline is present in high concentrations in amniotic fluid and breast milk which in turn increases maternal demand for the nutrient. A low of intake of choline in this population has been linked to preeclampsia, premature births, and very low birth weights. Emerging science shows that like folic acid, low choline intake doubles the risk of neural tube defects

In animal studies conducted with rats, low choline intake during pregnancy was linked to long-term cognitive impairment. Rats consuming adequate choline exhibited slower declines in memory and attention.


Studies suggest that choline-sensitivity continues after birth into infancy. Adequate choline during this stage may enhance brain development, memory, and learning abilities later on in life.


Increased amounts of homocysteine in the body have been linked to higher risks for cardiovascular disease, bone fractures, cancer, and cognitive impairment. Due to the essential role of choline in the breakdown of homocysteine among other metabolic markers – choline has been tagged as playing potential roles in reduced inflammation and cardiovascular risk

The implications of choline within the health care field are far and wide. The importance of choline throughout the lifecycle is becoming more prominent, but more research is still needed to substantiate its claims to fame.