I keep hearing conflicting information about eggs. Should I be limiting the number of eggs I feed my children or are eggs actually a healthy choice?
Eggs are not only packed with nutrition, but they’re also convenient and economical, making them smart choices to include on a regular basis on your menu. The confusion about the downside of eating eggs is based on old scientific research about cholesterol from decades ago and is a misconception that simply won’t go away.
It’s key to keep in mind that nutritional science is an evolving science, meaning numerous studies together over time can lead to a change in thinking about the status of a food or a particular nutrient. That’s what has happened with eggs. The current consensus, for most people, is that eggs can be eaten on a daily basis. This includes eating the whole egg, not just the whites, as most of the egg’s nutrition is found in the yolk.
Eggs offer a bonanza of nutrients including protein and assorted vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, D, folate, B12, iron, zinc and choline. Protein is critical for your child’s growing body and muscle development while vitamin B12 and iron contribute to healthy red blood cells. Low iron levels can go hand in hand with learning difficulties and behavioural problems, while research is also pointing towards choline in playing a role in brain development for young children through to adolescence. (A side note if you’re pregnant: there’s even more research pointing to the importance of choline for the brain development of the fetus.)
There’s even more, though, on the learning and behaviour front. Omega-3 fat is a healthy fat that’s all too often in short supply in all our diets but for kids, the shortfall can impact attention spans. The expression, “You are what you eat” also holds up when it comes to chickens and the eggs they lay. For example, when chickens are given feed containing omega-3-rich flaxseed, the eggs they produce are higher in these fats.
If that’s not enough to persuade you to cook up eggs regularly, consider that kids who don’t eat a balanced breakfast are likely to learn less at school through the morning than those who aren’t hungry. And then there are the behavioural consequences. Have you heard the term “hangry”? It describes someone who is feeling aggressive and angry due to being hungry and having low blood sugar.
While eggs are an any-time-of-day food, because of their staying power, they’re an especially great way to start the day. If you’re rushed in the morning, keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge or leftover egg dishes that can be zapped in the microwave or served cold.
Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian in private practice and author of The Enlightened Eater's Whole Foods Guide (Viking Canada). Visit rosieschwartz.com for more.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Winter 2017.