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By Nellie's Kindness Crew
In the fall of 2022, after many decades of contention, the FDA officially proposed a revision to requirements allowing certain foods and products to be labeled healthy. The most exciting change? The FDA now officially agrees: eggs are healthy. For years and amidst much misinformation, companies like Nellie's were prohibited from labeling their eggs as healthy. This change has been a long time coming, and we firmly believe that it marks a positive shift in food labeling regulation in the United States. So please join us in clucking it from the rooftops: eggs are healthy!
In its summary of the proposed revision, the FDA outlines a number of reasons related to egg nutrition that support the decision to allow eggs to be labeled healthy. The summary states that because eggs "are nutrient-dense foods, provide important nutrients, and are specifically recommended by the Dietary Guidelines, 2020-2025 for inclusion in a healthy dietary pattern...it is appropriate for these foods to meet the updated 'healthy' criteria."
The FDA's proposed change to labeling regulations for eggs hinges on a more holistic, all-encompassing, and relative view of the ingredient than the federal agency has ever adopted in the past. One of the key descriptors for eggs you'll find woven throughout the FDA's proposal is "nutrient-dense." This is an important shift in language because for decades, regulations barred eggs from the "healthy" category by citing their fat and cholesterol content and disregarding their nutritional benefits; namely, the 13 vitamins and minerals eggs contain and their recognition as an excellent source of multiple essential nutrients.
The FDA writes that eggs "are specifically highlighted in the Dietary Guidelines, 2020-2025 as being nutrient-dense foods, supplying nutrients such as choline, vitamin D, and essential fatty acids." This recognition of the vital role that certain nutrients play in our diets is a step in the right direction. At Nellie's, we're thrilled to see the FDA recognize that the fat and cholesterol content in eggs does not cancel out the lengthy list of benefits they bring to the average American's diet.
For vegetarians and omnivores alike, eggs are a fantastic source of protein and contain every essential amino acid. The FDA has always recognized this, but its proposed revision takes into account the relatively low level of saturated fat found in eggs in comparison to other protein sources, which is a crucial distinction: "the Dietary Guidelines, 2020-2025 recommends increasing variety in protein food choices in order to meet the recommendations for specific protein subgroups. Eggs are considered a nutrient-dense protein food option, particularly compared with some protein foods that typically have high levels of saturated fat and sodium."
As further evidence, the FDA calls out an important fact: unlike some other common protein sources such as meat and poultry, eggs contain nutrients that are under-consumed among Americans: "While about three-quarters of Americans meet the recommendation for the meat, poultry, and eggs subgroup, eggs provide choline and vitamin D, two nutrients with notably low intakes." In fact, just one large egg contains 23% of the recommended daily value of choline and 10% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D!
Though vilified for their fat and cholesterol content in the past, current research shows no evidence that egg consumption increases the risk of chronic illness such as heart disease. In line with this modern-day understanding of the role of dietary fats and cholesterol, the FDA proposes "adjustments to the baseline limit for saturated fat...for certain categories of foods that are core elements of healthful dietary patterns associated with reducing chronic disease risk...: 10 percent of the DV for dairy products; 10 percent of the DV for game meats, seafood, and eggs; and 20 percent of total fat for oils and oil-based spreads and dressings." This proposed change marks a positive shift away from the vilification of dietary fat and towards a more holistic view of eggs as a healthy source of fuel.
Along with countless nutritional benefits, there are many environmentally-conscious reasons to enjoy eggs as part of a healthy diet. Although environmental sustainability falls outside of the FDA's scope of regulation, it should also be noted that as far as proteins go, eggs have one of the lowest carbon footprints, second only to tofu, nuts, legumes, and peas. Choosing free range eggs in particular is a way to lower the footprint of your food consumption: unlike giant factory farms that follow caged or cage-free standards, Certified Humane Free Range farms like ours are small, therefore producing less waste and strain on the environment and local ecosystem. And don't forget to look for the B Corp seal when you choose Nellie's Free Range Eggs; it certifies that our company puts the health of the planet first in all that we do.
Whether you eat them on their own, as part of a meal, or in a baked good, you can rest assured that eggs are a healthy addition to your everyday diet. Everyone's dietary needs and preferences are different, but in general, balance is always a good thing! These recipes are some of our favorite ways to ensure that we're getting plenty of variety and flavor for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Cracking Into Free Range Egg Nutrition
How Many Grams of Protein in an Egg?