hen the war on cholesterol began a few decades ago, eggs became public
enemy No. 1. Because egg yolks contained high amounts of dietary
cholesterol, it was believed eating them could cause blood cholesterol
levels to skyrocket. But as the research on cholesterol deepened, eggs were
not the dietary villains they once were branded.
First, new analysis techniques revealed that an egg had less cholesterol
than previously thought – only190 milligrams in a large egg. Secondly,
scientific studies showed that, for most people, saturated fat -- the kind
found in meat, whole milk dairy products, poultry and some baked goods --
had a much greater ability to boost blood cholesterol readings than did
But the damage to the egg’s reputation had been done. Many people dropped
eggs from their menus even though they’re a convenient fast food chock full
of valuable nutrients, especially for the 50-plus crowd. They’re a super
source of protein, especially when preparing quick and easy meals for one or
two. Among the other nutrients in eggs are B vitamins such as B12,
riboflavin and niacin along with vitamins A, D and E.
While eggs have been unfairly maligned, moderate consumption is still
recommended for those who eat a variety of cholesterol-containing foods. And
for those who seem to be more sensitive to dietary cholesterol restricting
their intake of egg yolks may be wise.
The growing assortment of new egg products in the dairy case makes for
more nutritious choices for both the cholesterol-sensitive and the
nutrition-conscious shopper. Now there are cartons of Omega-3 eggs and all
sorts of containers of pourable egg products alongside the old standbys.
Sorting through the options can help you pick eggs-actly the right ones.
Use the whites to slash the fat
As the yolk is the cholesterol- and fat-containing portion of the egg, using
the whites along with whole eggs or just on their own can help to slash fat
and cholesterol counts. For example, in baked goods that call for a number
of eggs, substitute egg whites for some of the whole eggs -- for instance,
two egg whites in place of one whole egg. But don’t replace all the whole
eggs in the recipe. Use trial-and-error to determine how many eggs can be
replaced by whites for the recipe to work. In dishes such as omelettes, use
only the whites or add a whole egg or two for colour and flavour to a batch
of whites. In a recipe that calls for six eggs, use four egg whites and four
whole eggs; if you like the result, try using six egg whites and only three
whole eggs the next time.
The pourable liquid egg-white products offer a few advantages. They make
easy work of whipping up recipes that call for an abundance of egg whites,
such as angel food cake -- no eggs to crack and no leftover yolks. Another
bonus is that they’re pasteurized, which kills any salmonella bacteria,
decreasing the risk of foodborne illness. Thus, they’re ideal for use in
recipes where the egg whites may be only partially cooked as in meringue
toppings or consumed raw as in Caesar dressing, homemade mayonnaise and
Pasteurization also means a longer shelf life, making liquid egg product
a good choice to keep on hand for fast meals or unexpected guests.
Wide variety available
Egg producers no longer offer just one type of egg in the shell with
similar nutritional profiles. Researchers discovered that changing a
hen’s diet led to an egg with different nutrient composition. What’s on
the menu for a hen results in benefits for humans. For example, VitaPlus
eggs come from hens on an all-natural feeding program high in fibre, low
in fat and enriched with vitamins E and B12, as well as the B vitamin
folacin, also known as folate or folic acid. As a result, VitaPlus eggs
have eight times more vitamin E, three times more vitamin B12 and three
times more folic acid than regular eggs, as well as about 18 per cent
less cholesterol than a regular large egg.
Omega-3 eggs, found in most supermarkets alongside the regular egg
offerings, are the result of adding flax and vitamin E to the hen’s feed
mix. Opt for a large Omega-3 egg over a regular one, and you’ll consume
higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, both nutrients that
may offer a host of health benefits. Research on omega-3 fatty acids
shows that these fats may not only decrease levels of artery-clogging
triglycerides in the blood but are also linked to a lower risk of
developing blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Eggs for your joints?
And if that’s not good news, omega-3 fatty acids may also
reduce blood pressure readings and have an anti-inflammatory effect
-- good for those with aching joints. But as these eggs contain
mainly one type of omega-3 fatty acids, eating eggs doesn’t mean you
can drop other omega-3-rich choices such as fatty coldwater fish
(salmon and mackerel) from your menu. Getting a mix of these fats is
a wise idea.
For a similar mix of omega-3 fatty acids found in
fish, look for Naturegg Omega Pro, a liquid egg product that
contains 80 per cent less cholesterol and 50 per cent less fat and
calories than regular eggs. It’s a mixture of liquid whole egg and
egg whites along with heart-healthy fish oils.
Research from the University of Guelph in Ontario, carried out by
Dr. Bruce Holub and colleagues, shows Omega Pro lives up to its
name. After the study’s subjects spent three weeks eating a daily
scrambled egg breakfast made from the product, their blood
triglyceride levels dropped by 32 per cent, a reduction similar to
the effect obtained by medications. (Elevated levels of
triglycerides, a fat in the blood, boost the risk of artery disease,
as does cholesterol.) In the study, half the men ate a daily
breakfast made from the Omega Pro scrambled egg product while the
other half ate a bacon-and-waffle breakfast that was identical to
the egg breakfast in fat, calories, carbohydrates and protein.
After three weeks, there was a rest period, and then the two
groups switched breakfasts, each eating the other kind of breakfast
every day for three weeks. This type of study design, where both
groups eat similar diets, may provide the most reliable results.
While neither groups experienced any changes in cholesterol
readings, triglyceride levels dropped dramatically
Spinach and Red Pepper Frittata
This frittata is terrific warm or cold for any meal of the day.
Prepare it for dinner one night, then enjoy the leftovers for
breakfast or lunch the next day.
4 (1 l) cups packed baby spinach (about 8 oz/ 250 g)
2 tsp (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (175 ml) chopped onions
1 red pepper, diced
1-1/2 Omega Pro liquid egg product (375 ml each)
1/2 cup (125 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (50 ml) chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Prepare an 8- by 8-inch (20 by
20 cm) baking dish with vegetable oil spray.
- Steam spinach in microwave or saucepan just until wilted. Let
cool, then squeeze out excess water and chop coarsely. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; sauté onions
until soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add red pepper and sauté for 5 minutes
or until soft. Let cool slightly.
- In large bowl, mix together eggs, cheese, basil, salt and
pepper. Stir in cooled spinach and onion and pepper mixture. Pour
into pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until top is golden
brown at the corners. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
Makes six servings.
Per-serving nutritional information: calories: 147, protein:
6 g, fat: 7 g, saturated fat: 2 g, carbohydrate: 6 g, dietary fibre:
2 g, sodium: 272 mg.
Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting
dietitian in private practice and is the author of The
Enlightened Eater’s Whole Foods Guide: Harvest the Power of Phyto
Foods (Viking, 2003).
Rosie Schwartz, Contributing Editor of 50Plus.com, is a
Toronto-based consulting dietician in private practice and is author
of the 10th anniversary edition of The Enlightened Eater (Macmillan
© April 2003 50Plus Magazine