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Eggs "gold standard" of protein

Research has shown that dietary protein is important in maintaining body composition, bone health, glucose homeostasis, body weight and overall health. Dietary protein quality is determined by the amino acid composition of a protein and its digestibility. For example, eggs and milk have the highest digestibility in the human gut and contain all nine essential amino acids. In fact, the protein quality in eggs is so high that scientists often use eggs as the "gold standard" for measuring the protein quality of other foods.

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Nutrition Unscrambled is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs.

Egg Nutrition Center (ENC), science division of the American Egg Board, has partnered with the American Sports and Performance Dietitians Association to expand its ongoing nutrition research and to further illustrate how the natural nutritional properties of hen-laid eggs offer the near-perfect whole food for virtually all athletes.

ENC Executive Director Mitchell Kanter, PhD, with degrees in Exercise Science and Nutrition and deep roots in sports nutrition, is marching the “incredible edible” egg out of the kitchen and onto the athletic field, highlighting eggs’ nutrient package of high-quality protein, 13 vitamins and minerals, a modest 72 calories and a price of about 15 cents apiece.

“Eggs have been around forever so they tend to be taken for granted, but research conducted by ENC and others clearly demonstrates that a simple boiled egg is one of the most nutritious and convenient portable foods an athlete can eat,” Kanter explained.

While egg whites boast low-calorie protein with all the essential amino acids, egg yolks are the nutritional epicenter inside the shell, featuring some essential vitamins and minerals not found in abundance in many other foods, including choline and biotin, two water-soluble essential nutrients for the body’s cell membrane growth.

And what about cholesterol?

“University-based research over the past decade has helped the egg industry turn the corner on cholesterol concerns in two important ways,” Kanter explained. “First of all the research distinguishes ‘dietary cholesterol’ such as that found in eggs from cholesterol normally produced by the body, and indicates that for most people, dietary cholesterol has a negligible effect on cholesterol in the blood.  Secondly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service reported in March 2011 that a standard large egg now contains 185 mg of cholesterol—down about 14 percent from 215 mg in 2002—which we believe can be attributed to better ways that egg farmers are housing and feeding hens today.”

Indeed, the report of the Advisory Committee for Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (DGAC) states that “overall, the evidence shows that consumption of dietary cholesterol in the amount of one egg per day is not harmful and does not result in negative changes in serum lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels,” and highlights eggs as good sources of high quality protein and nutrients like vitamin D, choline, selenium and lutein.”

Kanter concluded: “We’re confident that as sports dietitians and other health professionals continue to examine our ongoing research, they’ll agree that the overall health benefits of eggs outweigh cholesterol concerns, and they’ll recommend more eggs for athletes.”

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