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According to the American Cancer Society – not that we didn’t know already — protein is a necessary nutrient for cell growth, helps keep our immune systems strong, and is essential after surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment to help fight infection and help build tissue. One of the most cost-effective ways to boost protein intake is the dependable and delicious egg. One large egg contains six grams of protein with less than 100 calories, and provides a number of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, selenium, and choline. Eggs are also a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, classified as carotenoids and known antioxidants, that have been shown to protect against CVD disease and may help protect against development of breast cancer.

The reputation of eggs suffered greatly in recent, cholesterol-counting decades and despite their nutrition value, many people still avoid or limit this once-beloved food. Yet eggs can be a welcome part of a healthy diet.  It was previously believed that all dietary cholesterol had a direct effect on our own cholesterol levels; however, in a recent meta-analysis dietary cholesterol intake was NOT found to be significantly associated with heart disease or stroke. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have announced that cholesterol naturally found in foods like eggs is no longer a “nutrient of concern.”  The Committee explained that the main villain is saturated fat, which is more likely to cause cholesterol levels to spike than dietary cholesterol, however to put it in perspective, Americans consume just 2.5% of saturated fat from eggs. At the end of the day, if you have high cholesterol, or are diabetic, you don’t have to give up eggs. You can have 2-3 eggs a day. Adding extra egg whites to whole eggs, or just using egg whites on their own will give you  a protein-filled breakfast without a lot of saturated fat.

Ann’s Tips

All eggs sold in the USA are hormone-free, but they can only be marked ‘antibiotic free’ if the laying hens have not received antibiotics. That said, laying hens that do get antibiotics, do not pass any residue to the egg, FDA regulations ensure that, so regardless of whether eggs are sold as antibiotic free, organic or free range, all are nutrition powerhouses and all are good to eat. If your pocket book allows, feel free to buy organic or free-range eggs. We recommend the eggs from your local greenmarket as the vendors there are usually your best bet to find true free-range eggs.

When you break a fresh egg, the whites are firm and domed around the yolk; the whites of stale eggs are flat and runny.  Egg yolks run in color from pale yellow to deep orange, with the yolks of free-range eggs usually showing the deepest color. The deeper color of the yolk, the more varied the laying hen’s diet, and arguably the better the taste.

Recipe Tips

Eggs should always be well cooked to avoid contact with harmful bacteria, but especially during cancer treatment, when the immune system is compromised.  There are many delicious ways to cook eggs in a safe and anti-bacterial way. This means hard whites and no runny yolks. In these circumstances, make sure that whatever the cooking method that the egg yolks and whites are cooked hard throughout.

Hard-boiled eggs are an obvious choice. They are a delicious, easy snack, and can add some energy and protein boosts to your salads. Hard-boiled eggs last in the refrigerator for up to a week, so make a few extra to have a protein-filled snack on hand with minimum effort.  If you like your eggs fried or poached, it’s a good idea if you are in treatment cook them longer to harden the yolk. They will still be great with a piece of whole grain toast, and safer for your immune system. If you have any doubts about what to do, contact your team’s registered dietitian.

When it comes to recipes, a great way to lower the absorption of eggs’ cholesterol by your body is to ‘put an egg on it’ that is, eat them with fiber rich leafy greens or legumes, like topping Megs Kale with Apples with a poached egg, or trying our Black Bean Breakfast Burrito. So yummy!  Or make Cook For Your Life’s easy Frittata with Leafy Greens for a quick and appetizing way to get proteins and your greens on.  For tips on egg basics, watch Ann’s videos on how to make the perfect poached, scrambled, and hard-boiled eggs.


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