Eat Eggs—No Yolking!

Earlier this year I posted an Egghead Quiz.  We love to hear from readers about our posts and this one got lots of responses. One reader indicated she wished I had also addressed eating egg whites vs the whole egg.  This got me thinking and doing some additional research in this area.

Like many of you, I’ve been teaching healthful living and nutrition-related topics for many years and the “bad guys” seem to come and go.  This is based on current research and longitudinal studies.  As I tell my students, as we learn more, we know more and things change.

Eggs (and specifically the yolks) used to be one of the “bad guys”. What we were talking about here was cholesterol and the belief that eating eggs and other foods containing dietary cholesterol increased the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.  Early versions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg per day.  This is no longer believed! 

The 2015 DGA do not contain this recommendation because research does not show a relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol.  Cholesterol is no longer considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.  The American Heart Association recommendations agree with this.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage the consumption of healthy dietary patterns that contains all foods and beverages at an appropriate calorie level while limiting saturated fats, added sugars and sodium.

Saying that, where do eggs fit in?

They can be part of a well-balanced healthful diet. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Base one large (50 grams) hard-cooked egg contains 78 calories, 6 grams protein and 5 grams of fat (1.6 g is saturated, 2 g monounsaturated and .7 polyunsaturated) and varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals. While egg whites contain almost half of the egg’s protein along with riboflavin and selenium, the majority of the nutrients are found in the yolk.  If you break it down, the yolk contains all of the egg’s fat and 76% (59) of the calories, 42% (2.52 g) of the protein and all of vitamins A, D, and B6, zinc, iron and choline.  Egg yolks are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.

The biggest concern about eggs would be about in the area of saturated fats.  Animal products, including eggs, do contain saturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol. Too much bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood can contribute to formation of plaque and narrowing of the arteries. The DGA recommendation is that less than 10% of your total daily calories come from saturated fats. For someone eating 2000 calories a day that’s about 13 grams of saturated fats.

While the numbers are small, if you are concerned about saturated fats and calories you could choose to eat one whole egg plus two egg whites instead of two whole eggs. But, don’t skip the yolk altogether, it contains a lot of the “good guys”.

A calorie comparison shows that portion control is important so you eat a 2 egg equivalent instead of 4:

  • 4 egg whites (2 egg equivalent) = 68
  • 1 egg plus 2 egg whites (2 egg equivalent) = 112
  • 2 eggs = 156
  • 4 eggs = 312

Cost comparison shows real eggs are cheaper by 50%:

  • Egg substitute (nonfat) = .16 ounce or about .32 for one egg equivalent
  • Eggs .16 each average cost (averaging store brand and free range eggs at $2 per dozen)

The real issue with eggs may be the high-saturated-at additions often added to eggs and omelettes:

  • Cheese – just one ounce is 110 calories, 20 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat
  • Butter – just one tablespoon is 111 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 7 grams of saturated fat
  • Whoa – this means a 4 egg omelette cooked in a tablespoon of butter with one ounce of cheese would rake in 533 calories and over 30 grams of fat.

Solution:

Go with a 2 egg equivalent and prepare them scrambled with a little cooking oil spray in a nonstick skillet or poached or hardboiled. Skip the butter and cheese.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

 

References:

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/pdfs/scientific-report-of-the-2015-dietary-guidelines-advisory-committee.pdf   Part D, Chapter #1, page 1

https://www.incredibleegg.org/egg-nutrition/cracking-the-cholesterol-myth/

http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/science-education/health-professional/eggs-cholesterol-getting-heart-matter/

http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1 2013 American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Guidelines on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/ USDA Food Composition Databases

http://peapod.com for cost comparisons

Want heart healthy teaching tools? You are in luck:

Egghead Quiz

Egg

Answer TRUE or FALSE to these questions to find out how much you know about the incredible edible egg.

  1. An extremely old egg will sink to the bottom of a bowl of water.
  2. You can tell if an egg is raw or cooked by spinning it on a table top.
  3. The color of the egg yolk is determined by the food the chicken has eaten.
  4. It’s best to use the freshest eggs possible for over-easy or sunny-side-up eggs because the yolk in these eggs will be less likely to break.
  5. Most of an egg’s nutrition is in the white. The yolk is only fat.
  6. Eggs are good for your eyes.
  7. Get the freshest eggs possible when making hard-cooked eggs; this will make them easier to peel.
  8. One large egg has 150 calories.
  9.  Eggs should be stored in the carton in the refrigerator.
  10. Because egg shells are hard (especially after hard cooking) they are great foods to take on a hike because they don’t need to be refrigerated and they will keep all day.
  11. The green ring or halo that is sometimes found around the yolk of a hard cooked (hard-boiled) egg is caused by overheating or overcooking.
  12. Because of the high cholesterol in the yolks all eggs should be avoided.
  13. You need to have a rooster (male chicken) to get eggs.
  14.  Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.

Answers:

  1. FALSE an extremely old egg will float to the top. As an egg gets older moisture evaporates through the porous egg shell. As this happens an air pocket develops inside the shell as the air pocket gets bigger the egg will float. However, this is not always a reliable tool to tell the age of an egg. A newly laid egg may also float, as occasionally a hen will lay an egg with a larger air cell.
  1. TRUE A raw egg will wobble due to the moving liquid inside the shell.  A cooked egg will easily spin.
  1. TRUE The yolk color depends upon the plant pigment in the hen’s feed.  Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigolds petals may be added to light-colored feed to enhance the yolk’s color. Artificial colors are not permitted to be added to the food.
  1. TRUE The fresher the egg the stronger the membrane surrounding the yolk.  A sign that an egg is older is when the white gets thinner and the yolk gets flatter.  When the yolk membrane gets weaker the more likely it will break during cooking.
  1. FALSE Most of an egg’s nutrients are in the yolk. The yolk has a high percentage of an egg’s vitamins. Egg yolks are one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Egg yolks also contain choline which is an essential nutrient for fetal development during pregnancy and aids in the brain function of adults. However, there is more protein in the white (3.6 grams) than in the yolk (2.7 grams). There is no fat in the white and 4.5 grams in the yolk.
  1. TRUE This is especially true as you get older. It is specifically the substances in the plant pigments that cause the yolks to be yellow that have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  1. FALSE Older eggs peel more easily.  Eggs are easier to peel when they are a week to 10 days old.  Evaporation through the shell weakens the membrane holding the white to the shell allowing the shells to come off easier after cooking.
  1. FALSE Eggs have a high nutrient density.  One egg provides many nutrients in proportion to its calorie contents.  Nutrient dense foods help you get nutrition without excess calories.  There are 13 essential nutrients in one egg with only 72 calories in one large egg.
  1. TRUE They will age more in one day at room temperature than they will one week in the refrigerator.  Eggs will keep up to three weeks after you bring them home from the store. Another reason to store eggs in the carton in the refrigerator is so they won’t absorb refrigerator odors.
  1. FALSE The egg shells are very porous (17,000 tiny pores in the shell of one large egg).  These pores allow moisture to move in and out of the shell both when the egg is raw or cooked.) Once cooked eggs need to be refrigerated. Hard-cooked (hard-boiled) eggs should only be kept unrefrigerated for no longer than two hours.  So if you’re taking them on a hike or picnic keep them in a cooler.
  1. TRUE   The greenish “halo” is caused by the reaction of the sulfur in the egg white with the iron in the yolk.  This happens when the eggs have been cooked too long or at too high a temperature. Cooking eggs in hot water, not boiling water and then cooling immediately minimizes the green. While this green ring might be unsightly it is harmless and safe to eat.
  1. FALSE  Dietary cholesterol has long been a hot topic surrounded by confusion. There is less dietary cholesterol in eggs than people have thought over the years. There are 186 milligrams of cholesterol in one egg. This cholesterol is found in the yolk. The US Dietary Guidelines recommend Americans recommend eating less than 300 mg dietary cholesterol per day and consuming less than 200 mg per day can further help people at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
  1. FALSE You only need to have hens (female chickens) to get eggs. But you do need to have a rooster to get fertilized eggs. It takes 24-26 hours for a hen to produce an egg. After an egg is laid the hen starts over again about 30 minutes later.  Most eggs are laid between 7 and 11 in the morning.
  1. FALSE The color of the shell is not related to the quality, flavor, nutritional content or cooking properties of an egg.  The difference in shell color is due to difference in hen breeds.  Hens that lay brown eggs are larger and require more feed than hens that lay white eggs. For that reason, eggs with brown shells usually cost more.

How’d you do?

  • If you got 11-14 You’re an EGGHEAD!  Good job!
  • 8-10  EGG-cellent! You know your eggs!
  • 4-7 You’re a little hard boiled when it comes to eggs.
  • 3 or less Don’t look now but you have egg-on-your-face!

Source:  Egg Nutrition Center (www.eggnutritioncenter.org) and the American Egg Board (www.incredibleegg.org)

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Check out all of our fruit and veggie posters for spring

 

Easter Eggs: What You Need to Know

Eggs are a fun and traditional Easter staple. Did you know that at one time they were banned during Lent and became a treat to eat on Easter? Eggs also symbolize fertility and renewal. They are associated with the end of winter and the coming of spring.

Here’s another bit of egg trivia: the average person consumes one-and-a-half dozen eggs at Easter, and the average family eats about four dozen eggs during the holiday.

It’s always fun to color Easter eggs, but remember that these eggs should not be left at room temperature for longer than two hours. If you’re thinking of having an egg hunt, it would be safer to use plastic eggs instead of real eggs. Why? Well, if the shells are cracked, then they can easily be contaminated by dirt and moisture from your yard. Plus, there’s always the concern that the hunt will take longer than two hours.

And speaking of food safety, if you are putting colored eggs into a braided bread or Easter pastry, remember to eat or refrigerate the pastry within 2 hours of pulling the pastry out of the oven. If you plan to store it for longer, then you can keep the pastry in the refrigerator for three to four days.

The food safety fun doesn’t end there!

For some families, pickled eggs are an Easter tradition. This usually involves placing hard-cooked eggs into a vinegar or pickled beet solution. Despite the pickling, these eggs should still be refrigerated. Use pickled eggs within seven days of preparing them.

And finally, the week after Easter is often considered “egg salad week” because one the most popular ways to use up all those hard-cooked eggs is by making egg salad. Remember, hard-cooked eggs should be kept refrigerated and eaten within seven days of cooking.

Now let’s talk about preparing the tastiest and prettiest Easter eggs.

The green ring that sometimes appears around the yolk of a hard-cooked egg is usually caused by hard boiling and over cooking. This is the result of a reaction between the sulfur in the white and iron in the yolk, which interact when combined with high heat. This green part is safe to eat — it’s just a little unappetizing. For best results, try this method instead:

Recipe: Hard-Cooked Eggs

For a kinder and gentler way to cook eggs, place them a pan and fill it with cold water until you have about  1” covering the tops of the eggs.

Bring everything to a full boil, put a lid on the pan, and then take it off the heat. Set a timer and let the pan stand for 12 minutes (for large eggs) to 15 minutes (for extra-large eggs).

When the time is up, drain the pan and cool the eggs under cold running water or in an ice bath.

Refrigerate when cool.

Not only does this method eliminate the green ring, the whites will be less rubbery! Plus, this approach helps prevent the shells from cracking. Remember, eggs are easiest to peel right after cooling.

And speaking of peeling, did you know that the fresher your eggs are, the harder they’re going to be to peel when cooked?

This is because the airy space between the shell and the egg itself increases as an egg ages. The shell becomes easier to peel as this air space increases. If you want eggs that will peel more easily, buy them a couple weeks before Easter and keep them in the fridge.

Shopping Tip: Eggs are usually on sale close to Easter. This may be a good time to buy a couple extra dozen. The “use by” dates on the egg cartons indicate the date before which the eggs should be eaten for best quality, not food safety. Usually eggs can be safely eaten for 2-3 weeks beyond the sell-by date. That said, eggs should be refrigerated at the store, so avoid displays of eggs that are not kept cold.

I hope these tips and tricks come in handy as you prepare your spring celebrations!

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Feeding Baby Safely

One of our Food and Health Communications team members is expecting her first baby in the next few months, and we all have babies on the brain! Mom’s milk or formula will be the mainstay of baby’s diet for the first several months, but by four to six months, the baby’s energy needs may increase and solid foods may be recommended.

Don’t rush to add solid foods! Until this age, babies usually don’t have the control over their tongue and mouth muscles to enable them to safely eat solid foods.

Here are a few key points for keeping baby’s food safe:

  • Never give babies dairy products made from raw or unpasteurized milk, as they may contain bacteria that could cause serious illness.
  • Do not give honey to babies who are under a year old. This can put the baby at risk for botulism. This includes baked goods or other foods that contain honey,
  • Don’t give babies raw or partially-cooked eggs. This includes soft-cooked eggs or poached eggs with “runny” yolks. The yolks and whites should be firm. Serve only the yolks to babies less than one year old, because egg whites may cause an allergic reaction.
  • Don’t serve babies mixed-ingredient foods until they’ve had all the individual ingredients separately. This will help you to makes sure that they are not allergic to the individual foods. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it doesn’t matter what solid foods are offered first. Many doctors recommend cereals first and often suggest rice cereal because it is not likely to cause food allergies.
  • Don’t give babies unpasteurized fruit juices.
  • If heating baby food or milk in the microwave, make sure to stir it to ensure that there are no “hot spots” within the food so that you don’t burn the baby.

And here are a couple other basic thoughts on feeding baby:

  • Do not allow food or formula to stay at room temperature for more than two hours. This is enough time for any bacteria that may be in that food to multiply to unhealthy levels.  Start off with small amounts of solid foods and throw away any uneaten food from the baby’s dish — don’t save it for another meal.
  • Remember, a baby’s immune system has not developed and they are more at risk for foodborne illness than older children or healthy adults.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Here are some other wonderful resources for feeding babies, kids, and families…

And here are a few more great options for Nutrition Month!

Smart Consumer: Everything You Need to Know About Eggs

I think we’ve all been there. Standing at the egg display in the local grocery store wondering which one to pick…

IMGP9498The options are many. Do you want large eggs or medium? Are some really more nutritious than others? Or what about the low-cholesterol egg substitutes? Choices, choices, choices.

I spoke with representatives from both the American Egg Board and the Ohio Poultry Association, and they helped me answer some of these questions. Together, we sorted through the misinformation, myths, and personal anecdotes about eggs.

Here’s what I learned…

Consumers have many choices when it comes to purchasing eggs. These options can be based on usage, nutrient needs, and personal values. When it comes time to choose what kinds of eggs you want to buy, keep these ideas in mind…

Due to changes in farming and feeding, today’s eggs contain more vitamin D and are lower in cholesterol than before. In 2011, the USDA re-evaluated the nutrients found in eggs. Now they show that one large egg contains 75 calories as well as 41 IU of vitamin D (64% more than in the 2002 data analysis) and 185 milligrams of dietary cholesterol (this is down from the earlier level of 220 milligrams.) Eggs are good sources (a little over 6 grams) of high-quality protein.

In an effort to reduce cholesterol, calories, and fat, some people are using just egg whites. This can be done by separating the whites from the yolks once you crack an egg open. You can also buy an egg substitute. Some egg products come in milk carton-style packages and are just egg whites. Others contain added ingredients that make them look and taste like whole eggs. But think about what you really want from these options. Yes, all of the fat and cholesterol in an egg can be found in the yolk, and of the 75 calories in a large egg, 54 of them come from the yolk. But remember that the yolk is a good source of vitamin D and two carotenoids — lutein and  zeaxanthin. These carotenoids help protect against macular degeneration as we age.

Eggs can come in different colors!Usually, an egg is packaged the day it is laid and is in the store within three days after that. The date the egg is packed is provided on the carton in the “Julian date”. This is a three-digit code for the day of the year. For example February 1 would be 032 and December 31 would be 365.* Sell-by dates or expiration dates are not federally required, but, if listed, they cannot be longer than 45 days after packing. If refrigerated, eggs will keep in the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks after you buy them, which is right about 5 weeks. I go into more detail about this in the post How Old is that Egg?

The size of an egg is determined by the weight per dozen. All sizes of eggs work for scrambling, hard-cooked, or poaching. In fact, I like the medium eggs for these purposes, since they are slightly smaller but just as pretty. If you’re baking, it’s best to go for the large eggs. Most recipes are designed with this size egg in mind.

Now, what about those eggs that claim to be higher in certain nutrients or lower in cholesterol? If a product label indicates a nutrient difference from the standard, then these claims need to be documented through research. Yes, it is possible to slightly alter the nutrients in the eggs through the chicken’s feed. For example: if a chicken is fed food that is high in flax seed, then the resulting eggs can be higher in vitamin D. But, you’re going to pay for a higher price for these eggs due to the higher cost of the feed. Whether you buy eggs with more vitamin D is a personal choice.  The same goes for organic, free-range and cage-free eggs. The USDA nutrient analysis shows that these eggs are all nutritionally the same as traditionally farmed eggs, but the circumstances in which the chickens are kept may vary.

Even though it makes shopping more difficult, I think we’re lucky to have all of these choices. Which eggs will you pick?

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

*Except on a leap year, of course!

NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Materials

NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN Materials

Want to help your clients become smart consumers? Try some of these great new products from the Nutrition Education Store!

Nutrition Poster Value Set

Portion Control Handout Tearpad

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Thank you for scrolling! Here’s a free egg handout — I hope you enjoy it!

Free Egg Handout

How Old Is That Egg?

If you open up almost any refrigerator, you’re likely to find some eggs. But how old are they?

If you’re like most people, eggs can hang out in your refrigerator for a while. At what point are they unsafe to eat?

Food safety specialists and the folks at the American Egg Board assert that eggs can keep in the refrigerator at below 40 degrees for 4-6 weeks after purchase.

Important DatesSo what does the code on the carton mean?

The code on the carton is a “Julian date” and it’s the date the egg was packed into the carton.

Let’s look at an example. I recently found a package of eggs in my refrigerator that had the code of 281. Checking the “Julian date” calculator on the web, I learned that that the egg was packed on the 281st day of the year — that’s October 8. The use-by date is November 21, which is 45 days after the “Julian date.” That’s right on target at 5 weeks.

Okay, so now that we’ve talked about when eggs are good, let’s review how to keep them in the best shape. I’m talking about storing them — should you put eggs in the door or the carton?

The general consensus these days is to keep eggs in their carton and put the carton in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Skip those little shelves on refrigerator doors. With the door opening and closing throughout the day, the eggs stored in the door are subjected to temperature changes, which can cause quality loss. Storing the eggs in the original carton also helps eggs keep their moisture.

Oddly-Shaped Older EggsBut what if you don’t have the carton? How well can you tell the age of your eggs?

For many years, I believed that the age of an egg could be estimated by the size of the air cell inside. The theory was that an egg evaporates as it ages. Since the shells are porous, moisture and carbon dioxide escape and air enters the shell. This makes the air cell larger, and with more air inside, the egg floats. That’s a good theory… but, it’s not always reliable.*

According to a representative of the American Egg Board, just because an egg floats does not necessarily mean that it’s old. Instead, it may just be that the chicken laid the egg with a large air cell in the first place.

Therefore, you can’t always tell the age of an egg by putting it in a bowl of water.

On the other hand, evaporation is the premise used in the recommendation for using a “slightly older” (7-10 days) egg for hard-cooking. An egg that’s a bit older allows for easier peeling. As the egg ages, it “looses” the egg membrane’s connection to the shell, which in turn makes it easier to peel.

So, to tell the age of an egg, we need to look at what else happens when an egg ages.

When cracked open, an older egg will appear flatter. It will spread out more and the yolk membrane will be weaker and easier to break. These eggs won’t look as good when served sunny-side up, but when the appearance isn’t important, they’ll still work fine.

Older EggAn “older egg” (I’m talking about eggs that are near that 45-day “use by” date) may also not look great for when it comes to hard-cooking eggs because that air cell is more prominent. See the photos here — those are oddly-shaped hard-cooked eggs.

According to the American Egg Board, a properly-handled egg rarely spoils or becomes unsafe if it’s stored properly, no matter how long it is kept.

That said, as an egg ages, it dries out and the quality diminishes. The American Egg Board recommends throwing out eggs after 4-6 weeks.

You’ll know right away if an egg has spoiled because it will have a very unpleasant sulfur stench. Once you open the shell, you will be able to smell it. This is pretty rare, but very memorable.

So there you have it. A guide to the age of eggs.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

*Note: The Egghead Quiz has been changed to reflect this new information.

BRAND-NEW Nutrition Education Materials

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Have you seen the latest and greatest from the Nutrition Education Store? There are over 70 TOTALLY-NEW materials for you to try. For great shopping resources like the post above, try…

Supermarket Shopping DVD

Beverage Better Poster

Healthy Cooking and Shopping Workbook

PLUS there are wonderful new designs in the Displays by Design category. These resources will help you coordinate displays at health fairs or job sites. There are lots of great banners, stickers, posters, handouts, and bulletin board kits in each display, all of which will make your job a snap!

Displays by Design

Invisible Eggs

In the process of my husband’s recovery from a heart attack, he has been working hard at improving his diet and exercise habits. He’s also been going to Cardiac Rehab three days a week.  Near the end of the program, they sent him home with a survey to complete so that he and his instructors could see how his diet has changed.

Before the heart attack, my husband was eating a fairly healthful diet. Needless to say, I was curious to see how his survey would be “graded.” As he was completing the survey, one of the questions stood out to us both. It asked, “How many visible eggs have you eaten in the last week?”

This got him joking about “invisible eggs.” How could he eat an egg that he couldn’t see?

After some thought (and a few laughs), we realized that the questionnaire was really asking about the number of whole eggs he was eating.  These would be eggs eaten as scrambled eggs, over-easy, or even deviled eggs. This type of egg is easy to see and easy to count.

The other type of eggs, “invisible eggs,” must be the ones that are combined with other foods. You know, the eggs in cakes, cookies, meat loaf, crab cakes and combination foods. These are the eggs that you don’t see, and that makes them more difficult to count.

The American Heart Association recommends cutting back on foods that are high in dietary cholesterol. They say to eat less than 300 milligrams (mg) of dietary cholesterol each day. That’s been the recommendation for all Americans with normal blood cholesterol levels for at least 20 years. That’s nothing really new.

Research is still showing that diets high in dietary cholesterol do have an effect on blood cholesterol levels, especially LDL (a.k.a. “bad”) cholesterol. I have seen some recommendations for people with heart disease to try to keep this number to 200 mg a day — but no one has made that recommendation to us.

What does 200-300 mg of cholesterol per day look like? Not a lot.

A medium-sized egg has about 185 mg of cholesterol. A large egg has about 215 mg. Two eggs for breakfast would quickly wipe out the recommendation of less than 300 mg a day.

All the cholesterol in eggs is in the yolks.  Egg whites without the yolks are a heart-healthy protein.  We’ve gone to substituting liquid egg whites for most of the eggs we eat. In most recipes, two whites will equal a whole egg. Replacing an egg with egg whites also helps reduce total fat and total calories in the diet.

Baked goods and other foods often contain “invisible” eggs. Those “invisible” eggs count toward that 300 mg a day limit too.

Keep in mind that two eggs spread over 12 muffins or a whole cake don’t add up as quickly as those two eggs eaten sunny-side up.*

Remember, eggs are only part of the cholesterol equation. It’s also recommended for people with high blood cholesterol levels to reduce not only the amount of dietary cholesterol they eat but also reduce their saturated fat and trans fat consumption.  In addition to helping with the cholesterol levels, reducing saturated and trans fats can help with overall calories, getting people closer to meeting their weight loss goals. Family history and genetics also play a big role in blood cholesterol levels.

Like many folks with heart disease, my husband is also on a cholesterol-lowering drug.  His cardiac doctor is recommending them for at least a year for overall artery health.

Thinking that drugs are not the only answer, we’re being aware of all eggs — visible or invisible — for the long haul.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Are you looking for ways to reduce cholesterol, saturated fat, or trans fat consumption? Check out these great resources!

How Much Fat is in That? Poster

Cholesterol 101 Education Bundle

Make the DASH: Heart Health Brochure

* The fat and sugar and other ingredients in that cake or muffins is another story for another day.

Eggnog issues

I’m really not trying to be a Scrooge, but I have food safety education issues with eggnog.

Traditionally eggnog is made by combining raw eggs with milk or cream, sugar, flavorings and perhaps alcohol. What could be wrong with that? Let me name a few issues.

Raw eggs—potential food-borne illness related to salmonella. This is especially risky for people with weaker immune systems such as children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses.

Fat Calories—there are lots of calories in most eggnogs. Just ½ cup (yes, I’m talking just 4 ounces) of regular-store bought eggnog can have 180 calories with 80 of them from fat. Much of this fat is saturated and hits 25% of the % Daily Value for saturated fats real fast. Even the so-called “light” eggnogs can provide in the neighborhood of 110 calories for ½ cup.

Sugar Calories—on top of the fat calories there is lots of sugar in most store-bought eggnogs. They can have 4-5 teaspoons of sugar in that half a cup of eggnog.

A quick note: adding alcohol to eggnog cannot be relied upon to kill bacterial growth, which may be present in raw eggs.  Also, if  you’re thinking calories, just 1.5 ounces of rum (that’s one small shot glass) adds 97 more calories.

So, what’s a safer and more healthful alternative if you want to serve eggnog this year? There are several options:

#1 Buy commercially prepared eggnog in the dairy section of your grocery store. Most are, but make sure it has been made with pasteurized milk and eggs. This will reduce any food safety concerns. Just keep it refrigerated. Look for the lower fat and lower sugar versions in your store—they aren’t “no calorie” or even “low calorie” —but at least a little less.

#2 Use a recipe for cooked eggnog that makes a custard-like base that is made ahead and chilled. This will reduce the risk from the raw eggs. Your favorite spices and liqueurs can be added before serving.

#3 If you want to use a favorite family recipe that calls for uncooked eggs, substitute a pasteurized egg product. There are several pasteurized egg products on the market now; they can be whole eggs out-of-the shell or low-cholesterol egg white products. These items are all available pasteurized, meaning they have been heated thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria. Pasteurized egg products can usually be found in the dairy or freezer sections in the grocery store. (For more on pasteurized egg products check out https://news.nutritioneducationstore.com/dont-lick-the-beaters/).

#4 Another option is to use pasteurized shell eggs. These are eggs that have been heated and pasteurized (but not cooked) while still in the shell. These eggs can be found along with regular eggs in the grocery store, but are usually more expensive. But the cost will be worth it if you prevent a food-borne illness of a family member or friend during the holidays.

#5 If you’re making your own eggnog, try using non-fat or low-fat milk or half-and-half (for more on half-and-half check out https://news.nutritioneducationstore.com/half-of-what/) instead of the heavy cream. Artificial sugars will work great in an unheated beverage such as this, perhaps give them a try.

#6 Limit the amount you drink.

I know a cup of eggnog is a must for some families and special gatherings and I’m not recommending that you skip this tradition— I’m just suggesting you re-think what you’ve always done.

That doesn’t make me a Scrooge does it?

Disclaimer: although we have pictured Trader Joe’s Eggnog products here, we are not receiving any compensation. There are many other brands of both regular and “light” products available.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

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Got Mayo?

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A couple weeks ago while traveling I saw a billboard with the words “Got Mayo?”  It was accompanied by a photo of potato salad and the address and phone number of a local hospital.  Obviously they were hinting (if a billboard that size can hint) that if you have food poisoning while in this area you should go to that hospital.

Apparently the advertising person from this health establishment did not talk with someone who knows anything about food borne illness before they put up this sign.  They were perpetuating the “old wives tale” that says mayo is the bad guy when it comes to food borne illnesses.

I’d like to set the record straight about a common food safety belief about foods like macaroni salad, tuna salad and deviled eggs.  These are all foods made with mayonnaise or salad dressings. Folks seem to worry a lot about them. Yes, they can be potentially risky and care should be taken to keep them at the proper temperatures—but don’t blame the mayonnaise. 

I’m not sure how this belief got started; perhaps it was a holdover from when people made their own “real mayonnaise” with raw egg, lemon juice and oil.  That product would be exceptionally risky when left unrefrigerated.

But, let’s be honest. When was the last time you made your own mayo for a cookout?

Commercially-made mayonnaise and salad dressings do not have some of the same food safety concerns as their homemade counterparts.  All commercial dressings are cooked, eliminating the raw egg problem. Most also have a high acid content—usually vinegar.  Acids tend to inhibit the growth of pathogens that cause a foodborne illness or food poisoning.

OK. So you may think to yourself,  if mayo isn’t the problem can I just throw “caution to the wind” and not worry about these foods any more? No.  Usually the foods that we mix with mayo and salad dressings are highly susceptible to bacterial growth themselves. Think about it…eggs, cooked and chopped vegetables, cooked meats and seafood…these are all on the list of “potentially hazardous”  foods…whether mixed with mayo or not.

The general rule-of-thumb is that food (mayo added or not) should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours and this goes down to one hour when it’s one of those really hot over 90 degree summer days.

While I was ranting and raving about the stupidity of a hospital putting up this sign, my husband calmly said, “well it did what it was supposed to do”.  It might not technically be correct, but it did get my attention.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

For great salad recipes, see our Salad Secrets Book:

Eggs in the Microwave

IMGP0066Years ago when microwave ovens were still new in most kitchens I taught many how-to classes.  I remember telling folks that eggs were difficult to do in the microwave.  There are always exceptions to every rule.

Recently while visiting my mom she showed me how to poach an egg in less than 45 seconds. She has a specially designed “egg cup” to use in the microwave.

I’m not sure what the original instructions are…but let me tell you how she does it.  Place one teaspoon of water in the bottom of the cup. Drop in the egg –you don’t need to pierce the yolk.  Put the lid on and microwave for 30 seconds.  Open the door, take the lid off and look at it.  Put the lid back on and microwave for 13 seconds more.  It worked. IMGP0078

Now, as the “microwave teacher” in the family, I said OK…I can do this too. I thought that part about stopping the oven and looking at the egg was pointless.  So, I put the water in the cup, added the egg and put the lid on and microwaved for 43 seconds.  Wrong. The egg exploded all over the oven.

Obviously you need that “rest” in the middle for the egg to continue to cook and the steam not to build up too quickly in the yolk.  I admit, mother knows best.

The time on the second step can be adjusted a little depending upon how hard you like your eggs poached. Also, they do continue to cook for a short while after taking them out of the microwave, so don’t overcook. It  takes some experimenting based on your specific oven.  But it can be done.

Mom’s not really sure where she got her microwave egg cups, but it’s one of those cooking gadgets that she really uses.  I checked on E-bay and there are several different styles available, seems other people have known about these for years.

Judy Doherty, President of Food and Health Communications shared that she has great success with eggs in the microwave, too.  She makes a breakfast sandwich using egg whites that she says is a winner!

The National Egg Board emphasizes that egg wisdom dictates you shouldn’t try to cook an egg in the shell in the microwave because steam builds up too quickly inside and the eggs are likely to explode. IMGP0081

What’s great about both of these recipes, no added fat, no dirty fry pan and a fast easy protein-rich breakfast. Another plus, no need to turn on the stove, so something that kids or people with limited skills or mobility could do.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University