December 1, 2022

Dietitians Agree: This Is The Ingredient You Should Add To Your Eggs If You Want To Blast Belly Fat

When it comes to healthy breakfast foods, eggs are some of the most versatile. Whether you like yours scrambled, poached, or soft boiled, you can make your meal even more weight loss-friendly, dietitians tell us, by adding one nutritious leafy green. We reached out to registered dietitians, nutritionists and health experts to learn more about the benefits of pairing eggs with spinach, and how this can promote overall healthy weight loss, and pesky belly fat (when added to a balanced diet and when regularly exercising of course). Read on for tips, suggestions and insight from Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements and Jay Cowin, NNCP, RNT, RNC, CHN, CSNA, registered nutritionist and Director of Formulations at ASYSTEM.

How Spinach Paired With Eggs Can Promote Healthy Weight Loss

Spinach, Best says, is a dark leafy green that is “packed with weight loss-boosting nutrients and can be easily added to many recipes, especially eggs.” When these nutrients are heated with water, she explains, they become active in such a way that the body absorbs them more easily.

“This allows the consumer to take in weight loss friendly nutrients, like vitamins K, E, and fiber, while eating a low carbohydrate, high-nutrient meal,” she adds. The fiber content in spinach will help the consumer “feel and stay full for longer, which can help prevent overeating throughout the day,” Best stresses. She notes that spinach can also help with weight loss by adding it to your eggs by “integrating antioxidants into this meal.”

Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory compounds that help to “reduce inflammation in the body” that would “otherwise prevent weight loss,” and harm overall health, she points out. Cowin agrees, and says to cook eggs and spinach in a small amount of water or steam them instead of frying them in oil. Another healthy way to prepare your eggs, he adds, is to “avoid adding salt, butter, or other high-calorie condiments.”

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The Importance Of Protein Re: Weight Loss

Another reason why you might want to opt for spinach in your favorite egg dish, Best says, is due to its protein content (one cup of it, when adding to eggs can give 0. 7 grams more protein). Cooking with egg whites, she adds, can be a “great way to cut down on the fat of a traditional egg-based meal while maintaining a lean source of protein.” Eating just the egg whites allows you to “cut down on calories from 71 to 18, while only losing 2 grams of protein,” Best recommends. The fat content, however, drops from “5 grams in an entire egg to zero, when only eating the egg whites,” she notes.

Cowin says that ultimately, the “best breakfast food for healthy weight loss is anything that’s packed with protein,” as eating protein while doing strength training will “help you maintain muscle mass, which means the weight you’ll shed during this period will be pure body fat.” Out of the three macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein), Cowin stresses that “protein will keep you fullest for the longest because it suppresses your appetite.” This is a big help when you’re trying to cut back, he concludes, noting that “protein also has a higher thermic effect than the other macronutrients, which means your body has to burn many calories to digest and process it.”

 

Good Eggs: For Nutrition, They’re Hard To Beat

What would we do without the egg? It’s a dietary mainstay, not only for breakfast but to feed finicky kids, stand in for a quick lunch or supper, blend raw into holiday nogs, and as an ingredient in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes.

But for a few decades there, eggs had a rather unwholesome reputation. Thanks to its high cholesterol content, the egg was deemed villainous. Years went by while many of us shunned eggs, ate only the whites, or ventured into the world of egg substitutes.

Then, in 2000, the American Heart Association (AHA) revised its dietary guidelines and gave healthy adults the green light to enjoy eggs once again. The AHA’s guidelines now allow an egg a day for healthy adults while still advising a total daily cholesterol limit of 300 mg.

The confusion over eggs stems from their cholesterol content. One large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol, accounting for two-thirds of the recommended daily limit.

When scientists learned that high blood cholesterol was associated with heart disease, foods high in cholesterol logically became suspect. But after 25 years of study, it has become evident that cholesterol in food is not the culprit — saturated fat has a much bigger effect on blood cholesterol. Full-fat dairy products and fatty meats are examples of foods that are loaded with saturated fat and which trigger the body to produce cholesterol.

Let Us Eat Eggs

With science on our side, we can once again enjoy the wonderfully nutritious egg. Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value (or gold standard) for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids.

The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. And brain development and memory may be enhanced by the choline content of eggs.

But the full health benefits of eggs can only be realized if you store them properly — in the refrigerator — and cook them thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria. As a child, I loved my father’s eggnogs, made with fresh, raw eggs blended with milk, vanilla and ice. These delicious treats are no longer considered a good option — unless pasteurized eggs are used in place of the raw eggs.

Creating Designer Eggs

Not all eggs are created equally. Manufacturers and chicken farmers have taken steps to enhance eggs’ nutritional properties, spawning an entire industry devoted to improving the dietary quality of the egg.

“Designer” eggs may come from chickens that are allowed to roam freely (free range) or whose feed is supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids. Hens given feed that is free of animal products produce vegetarian eggs, while those given all-organic feed produce organic eggs.

Some chicken feed is enriched with canola oil, bran, kelp, flaxseed, marine algae, fish oil, or vitamin E to increase the eggs’ healthy omega-3 fatty acid content. Certain types of feed are designed to reduce the saturated and total fat content of the egg yolk. Marigold extract has been used to increase the lutein content of eggs.

Beyond nutrition, other specialty eggs use a pasteurization process that heats the egg just enough to kill bacteria without affecting the texture of the raw product.

Keep in mind that, with designer eggs, you generally get designer prices. The good news is that if you prefer organic, vegetarian, or nutrient-enriched eggs, they are widely available on the market. When choosing eggs, check the label and contrast the nutritional content of designer eggs to the profile of the generic egg, which is 213 mg cholesterol, 1.6 g saturated fat, 1 IU vitamin E, and 35-40 mg omega-3s.

A Satisfying Source of Protein

Another good reason to eat eggs is that they help keep you feeling full. An egg, a few slices of whole-grain toast, and half a grapefruit is a low-calorie breakfast that will keep you satisfied until lunch. As you face the challenge of losing weight, it’s important to eat foods that are naturally nutrient-rich and stave off hunger between meals. The egg is an “eggcellent” example.

Eggs are easy to eat, well-tolerated by young and old, adaptable to any meal, and inexpensive. Whether you prefer designer or generic eggs, manage your egg intake over the course of a week. On days when you enjoy eggs for breakfast, it’s wise to limit foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat for the rest of the day.

Of course, it’s a good idea to know your blood cholesterol level and talk with your physician about the cholesterol and saturated fat content of your eating plan. People with high cholesterol levels should follow their doctor’s advice about eating eggs.

 

What’s The Healthiest Way To Eat Eggs?

Eggs are one of the more nutrient-rich sources of protein you can eat, offering a healthy dose of several vitamins and minerals. There are so many ways to prepare them, but the way you cook eggs can affect their nutrition.

Eggs are chock-full of protein and healthy fats, plus they offer choline, B vitamins, vitamin D, dietary cholesterol, zinc, and iron, all of which have their own benefits for your health.

That’s why it’s important to cook eggs in a way that preserves — or even enhances — their nutritional profile.

How Cooking Eggs Affects Nutrition

The process of cooking eggs makes the nutrients in them, especially protein, more bioavailable, according to January 2013 research in ‌The Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition‌.

In other words, cooking your eggs makes it so your body can absorb and utilize more of the protein and vitamins. Cooking also helps lower your risk of becoming sick from bacteria like salmonella, according to the USDA.

That said, too much heat can damage the cholesterol in eggs and cause it to oxidize into oxysterols, which have been linked to conditions like cancer, according to June 2018 research in ‌Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism‌.

“The healthiest way to eat eggs would be using high-enough heat to kill pathogenic bacteria, but not too high as to reduce nutrients or cause cholesterol oxidation,” says Anya Rosen, RD, LD, CPT, dietitian and founder of Birchwell. “Oxysterols have been linked to increased disease risk. Plus, cooking eggs with high heat can damage beneficial antioxidants, like vitamin A, which help fight oxidative damage in the body.”

So, think of cooking eggs like the Goldilocks phenomenon: we want some heat, but not too much. Using a “low-and-slow” cooking method will cook eggs ‌just right‌ for these conditions to be met.

The Healthiest Way to Cook Eggs

Poached eggs are one of the healthiest ways to eat them because you’re heating them up but not harming any of the nutrients, Rosen says.

“Poached eggs are cooked in simmering water for a few minutes, just long enough to cook the whites while leaving a slightly runny yolk,” Rosen explains. And this low-and-slow method, she says, is ideal.

Other Healthy Ways to Eat Eggs

Outside of poached eggs, there are a variety of other cooking methods for eggs, and some may be more beneficial than others. The way you serve your eggs also matters, as it will either add to or take away from the nutritional value of your breakfast.

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs are served by slowly scraping a skillet with a spatula to form soft egg curds until the end result is light and fluffy. Scrambled eggs are usually cooked over low heat, which helps preserve the nutrients.

That said, they are traditionally made with butter or oil, which may raise the calories and fat.

Boiled Eggs

When cooking boiled eggs, you can make the yolks soft or hard by boiling them for more or less time. Soft-boiled eggs take about 6 minutes and hard-boiled eggs take 10 to 12 minutes. The whites cook faster than the yolks, so the yolks need more time to boil all the way through.

Boiled eggs are a convenient protein to serve as a part of meals or snacks. They also have no added fat from cooking oils, which makes them a nutritious choice.

Heating methods like boiling eggs are considered safer than leaving the yolks uncooked like soft-boiled eggs due to lower Salmonella risk, according to the FDA.

Some antioxidants and vitamin A are lost when boiling eggs, but overall, hard-boiled eggs are considered a nutritious choice.

Baked Eggs

Baked eggs can be served with a hard or runny yolk depending on your preferences. They cook for a range of 10 to 12 minutes depending on how runny you like them.

Baked eggs can be served with veggies baked into the eggs or on the side for a healthy breakfast. This low-and-slow cooking makes nutrients bioavailable and easy to absorb.

Omelets

Traditionally a French dish, omelets are made with whisked eggs and butter until they are light and fluffy. Omelets are easy to add filling and nutritious ingredients or toppings like veggies, salsa, hot sauce and cilantro for a nutrient-rich breakfast. Just be sure not to use high heat when cooking them.

Fried Eggs

Fried eggs are cooked on a hot skillet, usually with oil or butter, and can be made with a runny yolk or cooked all the way through.

Fried eggs are delicious, but this cooking method uses high heat and may damage the nutrients like cholesterol and vitamin A in the yolk if the pan is too hot.

Healthy Cooking Tips or Eggs

Cooking healthy eggs is simple with these expert-approved suggestions.

Use Oils That Can Withstand High Temperatures

Rosen’s number one tip for making eggs healthier is being mindful of the cooking oil that you use. “It is best to choose heat-stable oils for cooking eggs, like avocado oil or ghee,” she says.

Oils with low smoke points, such as butter or extra-virgin olive oil, are not best to use when you’re cooking fried eggs or using other high-heat cooking methods, as the fats will degrade and oxidize.

All oils are susceptible to breaking down at high temperatures. Try these oils when using

  • ‌Coconut oil:‌ Cooking with exta virgin coconut oil is great when cooking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Use it if you’re baking eggs in the oven, scrambling them, or making omelets. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point at 450 F and is better for higher temperature methods like frying. (If you have high cholesterol, check with your doctor before adding coconut oil to your diet, as it’s high in saturated fat).
  • ‌Avocado oil:‌ This plant based oil has one of the highest smoke points of about 520 F, avocado oil can be used for nearly all types of cooking methods. Use it when pan frying, scrambling, baking or making omelets with eggs.
  • ‌Ghee:‌ Clarifying butter to create ghee involves removing the milk fat, which raises the smoke point of the oil to 480 F. It’s perfect for pan-frying, scrambling, baking or omelets.

Choose Nutritious Toppings

Choosing toppings that are low in calories and sodium is important when it comes to preparing healthy eggs. Pairing eggs with veggies or a serving with side of whole-grain toast or oatmeal is a great way to up the nutrient value of your breakfast.

Fix up an omelet with toppings like salsa, hot sauce, low-fat cheese or sour cream, and fresh herbs like cilantro are all easy ways to add more flavor to your eggs without adding a ton of extra calories, fat, and salt.

Use a Cast Iron Skillet

Using cast iron skillets for cooking can increase iron in our diet. Cooking with cast iron transfers some of the iron from the skillet to the food cooked in it, which may benefit those with iron deficiency and conditions like anemia.

Cast iron skillets are incredibly versatile and can be used in the oven, on the stove, or on the grill. Pairing meals cooked in a cast iron skillet with high-vitamin C foods (think freshly-sliced baby tomatoes or a side of juicy orange quarters) may help you absorb more iron.

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