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Eggs boost protein intake in childhood - new report highlights role of eggs across the globe
A new report has confirmed the role of eggs in boosting protein, vitamin and mineral intakes during childhood. The report, published in healthcare periodical, Network Health Digest, reviewed international intervention studies finding that adding eggs to the diet supported growth, prevented stunting, and improved protein levels in children.
In one study in Ecuador, infants were 47% less likely to be stunted and 74% less likely to be underweight when they added one egg a day to their usual diet. Despite an egg containing fewer than 70 calories, the quality of the protein is high. This means that an egg provides all the essential amino acids and protein building blocks needed for the human body to grow and develop.
Author and nutrition student, Amy Smith, commented: “Eggs have been shown time and again to add nutritional value to our diets, both in developing countries and here in the UK. Childhood is a time when the diet needs to be as nutrient-dense as possible without delivering excess calories, fat and sugar which, especially in developed countries, can increase the risk of obesity. Foods like eggs, which are high in protein, B vitamins, vitamin D and minerals, are therefore an excellent choice. They also have the benefit of storing well and are simple to cook.”
The report also highlighted specific nutrients in eggs that support optimal health and development during childhood, such as:
• B vitamins for energy release
• Vitamin D for bone health and immune function
• Choline which is essential for normal cognitive development and function
• Iodine for brain development
Tips for introducing eggs into your child’s diet
According to dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton, parents are often unsure when to introduce eggs into children’s diets. She said: “Weaning can be a confusing time given the wide range of advice provided by family and health professionals so eggs are often forgotten. Yet they are one of the best first protein foods once your baby has reached six months. Apart from the rich nutrient content, eggs are easy to digest and quick to prepare. Studies show that early introduction of eggs helps infants to avoid certain food allergies – probably because the immune system gets used to the different proteins.”
The Food Standards Agency changed its advice on eggs in October 2017, confirming that British Lion eggs are safe to be eaten runny, and even raw, by vulnerable groups such as infants and children.
Eggs are a great food for children, no matter whether they are babies or teenagers
• For babies 6-9 months: scrambled egg made with breast milk or whole milk – remember not to add any salt
• For older babies and toddlers: eggy bread cut into small squares are the perfect finger food. Add chopped baby tomatoes or berries
• For nursery school-aged children: soft boiled eggs with wholegrain soldiers and a bowl of raw carrot sticks make a quick and nutritious tea
• For primary school-aged children: swap boring sandwiches for a slice of homemade quiche made with eggs, sliced mushrooms or peppers and wholegrain pastry topped with Cheddar cheese
• For teenagers: teach them to prepare and cook a Spanish omelette with cooked slices of potato (leave skins on), red and green pepper strips, chunks of ham and sliced tomatoes. Can be eaten hot or cold – add a side salad to boost veggies
Smith A (2018) The role of eggs in the nutritional status of children in developing countries. Network Health Digest, July 2018; issue 136; pp23-25, http://www.nhdmag.com/