New paper highlights nutritional importance of eggs for young and old

Eggs provide a wide range of important nutrients for vulnerable groups, the research states
Eggs provide a wide range of important nutrients for vulnerable groups, the research states

A new paper published highlights a raft of research showing how a number of key consumer groups could benefit from increased egg consumption.

The paper, in the latest edition of the British Nutrition Foundation’s peer-reviewed journal Nutrition Bulletin, highlights the need for health professionals to disseminate new research on food safety and allergy more widely.

It is in the hopes to ensure that consumer confusion does not prevent mothers, babies and older people missing out on a range of potential health benefits.

The new paper reviews several recent research papers and government reports covering food safety; the influence of infant feeding and maternal diet on egg allergy; and type 2 diabetes.

Author Dr Juliet Gray, Chair of the Editorial Board for Nutrition Bulletin, concludes: "Eggs provide a wide range of important nutrients, including several that are found in only a limited number of other foods, such as vitamin D, iodine and long chain omega-3 fatty acids.

"They are therefore a useful and versatile ingredient for pregnant women, infants and children, and older people.

"In addition, there is growing evidence that introduction of eggs early in the weaning process and in the mother’s diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding can help protect babies against egg allergy."

Vulnerable groups

The new paper follows new advice from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) confirming that British Lion eggs can safely be served runny, or even raw, to vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, babies and older people.

A second draft report, from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), recommends introducing eggs to babies’ diets from six months of age, and warns that delaying introduction may increase the risk of subsequent egg allergy.

Research has suggested that there may be a ‘critical window’ for introducing potential allergens, such as eggs and peanuts, to babies, at around six months, and allergy experts worldwide have concurred in recommending that these foods should be introduced early in the weaning process, to protect against later egg allergy.

'Early weaning food'

Dr Gray’s paper highlights data showing that historic confusion over advice on allergy and food safety means many mothers delay the introduction of eggs until much later in the weaning process.

"For the majority of infants who are at low risk of egg allergy, introducing eggs in a soft-cooked form make them an excellent, easily consumed and highly palatable 'early weaning' food," says Dr Gray.

"The change in advice on lightly cooked and raw British Lion eggs will be very welcome for parents and carers beginning to introduce their baby to solids."

The new review paper also highlights research showing that mothers’ consumption of eggs during pregnancy protected their babies against subsequently developing egg allergy.

A separate piece of research suggested that mothers who ate eggs while breastfeeding could also help protect their babies against egg allergy.