Who wants to celebrate National Egg Month? If you currently have cancer – and are having difficulty getting protein and calories in – look no further than eggs as a vehicle to add nutrients and energy!
Eggs may very well be one of the most historically debated and misunderstood foods of our time. Only recently have we (scientists and health professionals) realized the value provided by eggs and begun recommending that individuals eat them – in all their glory! Here’s what we know:
- Eggs are good for you. Eggs originally earned a bad reputation due to their cholesterol content. Fast forward to today, we know that the body can produce its own cholesterol and that, most often, those who have high cholesterol have this condition because of a genetic predisposition and/or the amount of saturated fat they eat. In addition to being relatively low in saturated fat, eggs are good for you because they contain high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals, as well as other beneficial nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
- Go ahead and eat the whole egg. Each component of the egg is home to its own combination of nutrients—making the whole package more powerful than just one of its parts. Most of the protein is found in the egg white, while most of the vitamins are found in the yolk. As a team, the egg white and yolk provide vitamins A, D, and E; B vitamins (including B-12 – a nutrient that cannot be obtained naturally through plant foods); folate, biotin, and choline; and minerals such as selenium, calcium, iodine, and phosphorous.
- Food safety is important—especially if you have a compromised immune system from cancer treatment. Store eggs in the refrigerator. Cook thoroughly. Wash you hands after handling and make sure not to cross-contaminate.
Using Eggs as a Vehicle for Calories
There are a multitude of ways to utilize eggs to pack in calories to help a patient gain weight during cancer treatment. Here are a few ideas*:
- Cook with butter or oil and add cheese.
- Combine with favorite ingredients and make an egg frittata, quiche, casserole, or Spanish tortilla.
- For extra calories, make an egg sandwich on a bagel and add avocado and cheese. For a different twist, cook the eggs in the avocado with this recipe!
- Mix extra eggs into batter for French toast or pancakes.
- Eggs for dessert? Yes please – try custard or cheesecake!
Note that specific nutrition and food recommendations vary from person to person. For instance, due to other medical conditions, some patients may have to restrict the fat they eat or phosphorous. Others may need to restrict iron or carbs. Always follow the individualized nutrition guidance provided to you by your healthcare provider!
* Featured recipes from MyPlate, the American Cancer Society, World Cancer Research Fund, and Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Virginia Cancer Specialists Dietitians