Eggs are back on the menu 

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An interview with Dr. Sapna Batheja, assistant professor in the College of Public Health Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, about the nutritional value of eggs. 

Egg as a devil and egg as an angel

At the College’s Celebrate Public Health event on March 25, the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies and its dietetics students will showcase the Nutrition Kitchen to teach us about healthy fats and challenge attendees to decide whether they can taste the difference between a regular egg omelet and an omelet with added healthy fat. 

Why has there been so much debate over the years about whether eggs are healthy?  

Eggs often get a bad rap because they have a significant amount of cholesterol, and we know that a high level of bad cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol, in our blood is a significant risk factor for heart disease. However, research has shown that most of our LDL cholesterol in our body comes from foods that have a significant amount of saturated fat or trans fat. One large egg only has 1.5 grams of saturated fat. Eggs also have a lot of healthy nutrients, such as protein, choline, and vitamins A, B, and D.  

What factors do you take into consideration when determining if a food is healthy or not – or are there shades of grey? 

We can look at the "Big 3" when it comes to identifying healthier food options, unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats), added sugar, and sodium. While these are not the only culprits in our diet, having a diet that is low in these nutrients is likely to be a diet that includes minimally processed foods.  

Where do you stand on eggs? What would you say to someone who is questioning where eggs should fit into their diet? 

On average, one egg a day is a great addition to your diet. Eggs are so versatile and are nutrient dense. I would recommend fitting eggs into your regular diet through not only breakfast, but sandwiches, salads, and snacks.  

What is personalized nutrition and how might this inform an individual’s decision to eat eggs or not? 

Personalized nutrition is an individualized way of treating patients that takes into account the holistic characteristics of an individual, including genetics, lifestyle, and risk factors. For example, some individuals may have a genetic profile that puts them more at risk for food allergies or sensitivities to the proteins in eggs.  

What are good egg alternatives for those who wish to avoid them – or are having trouble justifying the higher price of eggs? 

There are a lot of eggs substitutes that are available to individuals who are vegan or who are trying to avoid them. The type of substitute chosen will depend on what the egg’s purpose is in the food component. Eggs serve many functions in food, for example, they can serve to bind, to add moisture, to add flavor, or as leavening agents. Some common egg substitutes for cakes may be a ripe banana, applesauce, or yogurt. Whereas some egg substitutes for cookies may be chia seeds and water.