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Eggs and healthy ageing

Eggs – when there’s an egg in the house – there’s a meal in the house!

This expression will be familiar to many people as the catch phrase of the former Egg Marketing Board.  The saying is as true today as when it was first coined.

Nutrition and physical activity continue to be important as we grow older. A healthy combination of good food and exercise can delay or even reverse many of the problems associated with aging, helping older New Zealanders to continue living independently and enjoy a good quality of life.

The recommended intake of a number of nutrients is greater for older people than for younger age groups. As older people often think they need less food than younger ones, it is important to focus on the nutrients in food. It can be difficult to get all the nutrients you need if food intake is small, so having at least three meals a day, between meal snacks, and keeping an eye on any weight changes is important.

Eggs contain many of the nutrients which are essential for the healthy aging and well-being of older adults. These include:

  • Protein which provides energy and is also essential for the repair and maintenance of body tissues. Older adults should aim to have at least 1-2 serves per day of protein-rich foods.
  • Vitamin D which has an important role in bone health as it helps our bodies to absorb calcium from food.
  • Vitamin B12 which is needed for normal blood and brain function.
  • Lutein which helps to preserve the eye against macular degeneration and cataracts, and may even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

While some older adults may unnecessarily be avoiding eggs because of their perceived fat and cholesterol content, research shows that egg consumption has little association with plasma cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

Due to the variety of nutrients found in eggs, they are an ideal food to include in the diets of older adults. They are also economical, easily prepared and soft in texture, which makes them appropriate for people of this age group. Eggs are recommended as part of a healthy eating pattern that also includes adequate amounts of wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy foods, lean meat, fish, poultry and unsaturated fats.

The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation suggests including eggs as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Favourite ways to enjoy eggs include - poached, boiled or scrambled for a warm and nourishing breakfast or lunch; as a sandwich filling, mixed with parsley, chives, and salad dressing; and as a key ingredient in dishes such as quiche, roulade, soufflé and omelettes. Then there is the New Zealand favourite - bacon and egg pie. Hard cooked eggs are great when devilled (the yolk removed and mashed with curry  or other spices), combined with a curry sauce to make the popular curried eggs, an onion sauce to make eggs lyonnaise or a cheese sauce for eggs mornay.

Their versatility extends to desserts. Old school puddings such as ice cream pudding and baked custard include eggs, and adding an egg to a milky pudding such creamy rice will boost the nutritional value without increasing the volume too much. An egg-based custard sauce is a nutritious and delicious accompaniment to fruit crumble.

Eggs are packed with natural vitamins and minerals which are essential for maintaining good health for all ages, and natural protein to keep you fuller for longer.

For delicious recipes, a free E-recipe book, how-to videos, and lots of information and tips visit www.eggs.org.nz

Credit: Julian Jensen of the NZ Nutrition Foundation

Last modified: 
08/11/17