British hens’ eggs slash risk of premature births and depression
Hard to beat! Why eggs are the best all-round food for a healthy pregnancy, reveals new study
- Also supply key nutrients, such as iron, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin D and folate
- Just one has more than 100 per cent of vitamin B12 required during pregnancy
- Comes 2 years after the government changed their advice for pregnant women
British eggs are the best all-round food source for a healthy pregnancy.
Not least because they can slash the likelihood of premature birth, low birth weight and maternal depression.
That’s according to new research, which pulled together the findings of 18 different studies looking at child-bearing and consumption of hens’ eggs.
The new report, published in Network Health Digest, comes just two years after the government officially changed their advice for pregnant women.
Good for you: The rich nutritional composition of eggs means that they supply most key nutrients required during pregnancy, such as iron, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin D and folate
Author and dietitian, Cordelia Woodward, who co-conducted the analysis, said: ‘Eggs are a neat package of protein, highly bio-available nutrients, and one of the few natural sources of vitamin D which is vital during pregnancy.
‘Eggs also contain small amounts of long-chain fatty acids (typically found in marine foods) which have been linked with increased infant birth weight, reduced risk of preterm birth and reduced maternal depression.
‘The iron in eggs plays an important role during pregnancy as this is a time when women’s blood iron levels can fall, leading to tiredness and fatigue.
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‘Iron supplements can be prescribed but may cause constipation. A daily meal which includes eggs is a natural way to boost iron in the diet’.
The report concluded that the rich nutritional composition of eggs means that they can supply most of the key nutrients required during pregnancy, such as iron, iodine, vitamin B12, vitamin D, folate and choline.
It also found that just one egg contains more than 100 per cent of the vitamin B12 requirement during pregnancy.
Fact: Just one egg contains more than 100% of the vitamin B12 requirement during pregnancy
Vitamin B12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, as well as being involved in DNA synthesis (DNA is the genetic material for all cells, including those of the growing foetus).
More than three quarters of UK women of childbearing age have low blood levels of folate, a nutrient that helps to prevent neural tube disorders, such as spina bifida, which occur in 1 in 1000 births.
What’s in an egg?
Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value (or gold standard) for protein.
One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids.
The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin.
These carotenoids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. And braindevelopment and memory may be enhanced by the choline content of eggs.
Two eggs provides 55 micrograms of folate – but pregnant women still need to take a daily folic acid supplement in the first three months.
Iodine deficiency has been found in up to 40 per cent of pregnant women and some UK studies have demonstrated that deficiency may be associated with low birth weight and delays in infant neurological and behavioural development Two eggs provides around a quarter of the daily iodine recommendation.
After oily fish, eggs are the richest source of vitamin D, providing 3.7 micrograms per serving of two eggs.
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, urine infections and caesarean deliveries.
Pregnant women are advised to aim for 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily.
The protein level in eggs is high enough to boost satiety levels, so you feel fuller after eating. This can help women maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. Serious obesity (BMI>35) affects around 5 per cent of pregnant women and can lead to a greater risk of caesarean sections and induced births.
How safe are eggs in pregnancy?
‘Thanks to huge safety advancements in the UK, British Lion eggs are now safe to eat raw or partially cooked by pregnant women and children from the age of 6 months,’ says dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton.
‘This means that these groups can enjoy a runny boiled egg with soldiers, mousses, soufflés or homemade mayonnaise.
‘As advised by the NHS, check whether you have the right eggs by looking for the red Lion stamp or asking restaurant staff if they are using British Lion eggs’.
EGGS: THE EDWINA EFFECT
Cases of salmonella caught from British eggs rose sharply in the 1980s
In December 1988, health minister Edwina Currie outraged producers by warning that most British eggs were infected.
Sales plummeted by 60 per cent and did not recover for several years
In 1998 the egg industry reinstated the British Lion stamp on shells signifying producers had vaccinated hens against salmonella and performed other checks.
A 2004 study of 28,000 British eggs by the Foods Standards Agency found none contained salmonella.
In 2016, a year-long review by a panel of Government scientists concluded that the risks of contracting salmonella from UK eggs is ‘very low.’
They told the Food Standards Agency to change its official advice for children, the elderly and pregnant women – if they eat British Lion eggs.
Now 11.8billion eggs are eaten in Britain every year and consumption is rising.
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