Health Canada’s New Food Guide: Where Do Eggs Stand?
Eggs are included in the “protein” food group of Canada’s New Food Guide. Curious if eating eggs is good for you? As a registered dietitian, I’m passionate about clarifying the misinformation on nutrition. Let’s dive in!
Thank you so much to Get Cracking for sponsoring this post. As always, all words, thoughts, and opinions are my own.
In case you missed the news, on January 22nd Health Canada released a brand new Food Guide! There’s been some big changes to this Food Guide, with key messages highlighting ways to make healthy eating more straightforward.
The Guide emphasizes the importance of food skills, such as cooking more meals at home with basic ingredients, and has done away with portion sizes in favour of eating more mindfully and using the “plate method” as a guide to preparing meals.
The main image of the Food Guide is a plate – half of it filled with colourful fruits and vegetables, a quarter filled with starches, and a quarter with protein – exactly what I teach many of my clients!
As well, the new Food Guide has done away with both the individual “meat” and “dairy” food groups, instead including them in the “protein” group with ALL other sources of protein.
For the first time ever, Canada’s Food Guide emphasizes eating more plant-based foods, including plant proteins. Does this mean you have to go vegan to be healthy? Not at all.
The Food Guide includes both plant and animal proteins, listing protein foods as “legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverage, fish, shellfish, eggs, poultry, lean red meat,” and some dairy foods.
If anything, I find the guide stresses choosing a greater VARIETY of foods, placing an emphasis on plants because the general population simply doesn’t eat enough of them. I also think the guide is more inclusive to those who do choose to follow a plant-based diet.
While going vegan may be the answer for some, including animal proteins in your diet (so long as you’re ALSO eating enough plants) is a totally acceptable and healthful approach to balanced nutrition.
As a registered dietitian, I often get asked if I follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. While I do love my plants, I choose to include foods like eggs, seafood, yogurt, and cheese in my diet. This is what aligns with my cultural background, what I’ve found works best for my body and my digestive system, and I love that these foods pair well with so many plant-based ingredients.
I truly find that eggs are one of those protein sources that REALLY help me to eat my vegetables. This is why I often include them in my weekly meal prep (check out this post for ideas for meal prepping with eggs!)
So in honour of the new Food Guide and possibly some confusion over whether animal products are still “good” for you, I thought I would answer some very common questions about eggs below.
In this post, I share helpful information about eggs and answer several burning questions, including:
- Are eggs nutritious?
- What about the saturated fat + cholesterol content of eggs?
- Are brown eggs healthier than white eggs?
- Are egg yolks good for you?
- Should you just eat the whites of an egg?
Are Eggs Nutritious?
Yes! Many people see eggs as a great source of protein, which they are (1 egg provides ~7g of complete protein), but they’re also full of other essential nutrients such as vitamin A, D, B12, B6, iron, and choline.
Eggs are actually one of the FEW food sources of naturally-occurring vitamin D, important for maintaining healthy bones and promoting neuromuscular function.
They’re also one of the best dietary sources of choline available, a nutrient involved in neurological functions and proper brain development.
What About The Saturated Fat & Cholesterol Content of Eggs?
While eggs ARE a source of cholesterol, current evidence has shown that DIETARY cholesterol does not actually become BLOOD cholesterol (the kind that we’re concerned about). Thus, consuming moderate levels of dietary cholesterol does not appear to increase risk for heart disease in healthy individuals.
When it comes to the saturated fat content, one egg actually has a greater amount of UNsaturated fatty acids (2.7g) than saturated (1.5g). Most sources of fat provide a mix of saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats, and we need some of each type in our diets.
As always, it’s important to look at the WHOLE PICTURE when it comes to someone’s eating patterns and not just narrowing in on one food or nutrient alone. If you’re eating tons of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, a bit of cholesterol and saturated fats are not going to have a negative impact.
Are Brown Eggs Healthier Than White Eggs?
The colour of an egg is NOT an indicator of quality, nutrition, or taste. So, what is it an indicator of? The breed and colour of the hen!
White-feathered hens lay white eggs, while brown-feathered hens lay brown eggs.
The reason why brown eggs often cost a little more than white eggs is simply because the brown-feathered hens are larger in size. Larger size = more feed = more expensive to raise = more expensive in the grocery store.
Are Egg Yolks Good For You? Should You Just Eat The Whites?
Please don’t throw those yolks away! In the past it was thought to throw the yolk away to reduce cholesterol and fat intake, but now we know that dietary cholesterol has little impact on blood cholesterol and that fat is IMPORTANT to include in our diets.
The yolk is where MOST of the essential nutrients are found in eggs, and the fat in the yolk actually helps your body to absorb those nutrients.
If you love the whites because you’re all about that protein, the yolk actually contributes 40% of an egg’s protein content!
Some Easy, Healthy Egg Recipes
- Easy, Avocado Boiled-Egg Salad Sandwich
- Healthy Breakfast Egg Muffins
- Easy Chopped Quinoa Salad With Eggs
- Eggs Benedict With Canned Salmon
- Spanakopita Frittata With Spinach & Feta
- High-Protein Chimichurri Grain Bowl With Fried Egg
- Sweet Potato Hash With Red Pepper & Kale
Do you guys have any more questions about eggs? Just let me know. I’d be happy to answer them in the comments or on my Instagram!
For more information and recipe ideas to apply the Food Guide’s plate principle, check out http://eggs.ca/recipes or visit Get Cracking on Instagram or Facebook.
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Williams KA Sr et al. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report concerning dietary cholesterol. Am J Cardiol. 2015;116(9):1479-80.
Alexander DD et al. Meta-analysis of egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016;35(8):704-716.
Rong Y et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2013;346.
Missimer A et al. Consuming two eggs per day, as compared to an oatmeal breakfast, decreases plasma ghrelin while maintaining the LDL/HDL ratio. Nutrients. 2017;9(2):89.
Fernandez ML. Effects of eggs on plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Food Funct. 2010;1:156-160.