Guest Post Sally Marchini, Dietitian
As it’s Easter next weekend I thought a good topic to talk about might be eggs – not choccy eggs but chiccy eggs 🙂
Reason being that many people choose to avoid meat over the Easter period for religious reasons and eggs are an eggcellent way to help you meet your protein another nutrient requirements. We’ll look at what nutritional qualities they contain, how many you should eat in a week and why (from a diabetes point of view), safety concerns as well as pointing you in the direction of some delicious and easy recipes.
Did you know that eggs contain good quality protein and omega-3, 11 different vitamins and minerals (including the range of B vitamins, the fat soluble vitamins A, D and E, as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron)? Have a look at the table on the Eggs.Org.Au website for full breakdown – it’s quite awesome!
A myth busted
Eggs used to get a bad rap as a contributor to cholesterol problems, but we know so much more now.
The Australian Heart Foundation tells us:
“One egg has about 5 grams of fat – but most of this is the ‘good’ unsaturated fat that you need to be healthy. An egg contains only about 1.5 grams of saturated fat and no trans fat at all.
“The cholesterol in eggs has only a small insignificant effect on LDL cholesterol, especially when compared with the much greater effects that saturated and trans fats in our diet have on LDL cholesterol.
“Some people are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol. This means that their LDL cholesterol levels rise from eating foods containing cholesterol more than other people’s do. If you want to know your cholesterol level and how to manage it, talk to your doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietitian for individual advice.”
Eggs and diabetes
The main issue relating to our diabetes with eggs is that additional risk we have of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is recognised as the major cause of death for people with diabetes, and in 2012 it was estimated that about 65% of all CVD deaths in Australia were in people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. I hope the points outlined above by the Heart Foundation on cholesterol will put your mind at rest in this respect, but it pays to be aware and remember that if we follow the Australian Dietary Guidelines with a focus on fresh foods in preference to processed ones, we should be in a good place with our heart health and overall wellbeing.
How many can I eat?
The Heart Foundation advises: “All Australians, including people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, who follow a healthy balanced diet low in saturated fat can eat up to six eggs each week without increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease. You can eat one egg most days of the week or eat a serve of eggs (two eggs) in two or three meals a week (ideally boiled, poached or scrambled using reduced, low or no fat milk).”
However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that while long-term clinical trial data is lacking, evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that people with diabetes or those at risk of diabetes shouldn’t eat an egg a day. Therefore, based on the available evidence, no more than 3 eggs a week is prudent advice for people with diabetes. So please eat them in moderation just to be on the safe side.
You’ll notice too that a large (60g) egg is only half a protein serve, so is a great addition to breakfast or lunch when you’re aiming to keep hunger at bay while managing your energy intake. Have a read of our recent blog on Protein for more information in this respect.
The Food Standards Association of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) published a really helpful explanatory document on egg safety that you can access here.
It tells us that “Salmonella is the principal microorganism of human health concern associated with eggs and egg products. While the frequency of Salmonella-contaminated eggs in Australia is very low, there is a potential risk of illness from consumption of raw or lightly-cooked eggs, or consumption of uncooked foods containing raw egg.”
This is the main reason that eggs are required to be thoroughly cooked for people who are at risk of associated dangers such as pregnant women, the very young and the elderly.
The Victorian government’s Better Health Channel reminds us that “to enjoy eggs safely, buy clean, uncracked eggs that are within their ‘best before’ date, store them in the fridge in their carton and cook until hot all the way through. If you follow these basic food safety tips, you can significantly reduce the chances of you or your family becoming ill from bacteria in or on eggs.” This page has some really helpful tips if you have any concerns about eggs and food safety issues, including a list of foods that may contain raw egg that might surprise you!
Eggs are really one of the most perfect, versatile, quick and easy ingredients to cook with.
The Heart Foundation website makes an excellent point in telling us that “They are an essential part of any healthy eating plan and also provide a quick delicious snack when time is short. Eggs make great lunchbox fillers for adults and children and are very portable when hard boiled.”
Easy ideas that spring to mind include:
– Poached eggs on multigrain toast
– A veggie and legume filled omelette for a meal in a pan
– Frittatas that are so tasty and versatile
– Perfect boiled with a bit of curry powder and finely chopped onion as a sandwich filler
– The old favourite of a boiled egg with wholegrain toast soldiers
– Soft boiled eggs as part of a Salad Nicoise – my favourite!
And there are so many pages of delicious egg recipes. Here are a few of favourites:
How will you be having your eggs this Easter? We’d love to hear you ideas, so please add them to the comments section below 🙂
Sally is owner of her private practice (Marchini Nutrition), and has had type 1 diabetes for close to 40 years and coeliac disease for many years too.