Healthy diets don’t change over time—but food and ingredient trends are continually changing. As health professionals, our clients expect us to have all the answers when it comes to the latest food trends. To keep you in the know, we are offering updates on "ingredients in the news." This issue’s featured ingredient: Egg Whites.
The unassuming egg white is such a staple of the healthy food kitchen that it can be overlooked when searching for high-quality proteins. But skipping over the egg white is a mistake. Egg whites, fresh or boxed, are a good source of protein, extremely versatile, and can help support a healthy diet.
Protein may be the trendiest macronutrient right now, but many don’t realize that not all protein sources are nutritionally equivalent. Protein completeness is measured as a protein’s chemical score. This is found by measuring the ratio of a protein’s essential amino acid content against a reference amino acid pattern. Then, protein digestibility is also measured to determine how much of the protein from a given food is absorbed in the digestive tract. These scores are combined to create the Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).
The better the protein composition and digestibility, the higher the score. For example, the egg white scores 1, which is the highest possible score. This means that if a person ate sufficient amounts of egg whites as their primary protein, they would not develop a protein deficiency. In contrast, most plant proteins, as well as the animal protein collagen, have lower scores since they are low in one or more essential amino acids.
It’s relatively easy to consume complementary “incomplete” proteins over the course of the day that provide a complete protein profile. It’s actually not necessary to eat only (or even any) complete proteins, since most people, including vegetarians, get proteins from multiple sources. But for those with increased protein needs like serious athletes, some older adults, and those on low calorie diets, overall protein quality is an important consideration.
In addition to omelets, better-for-you breakfast sandwiches, and fluffy desserts like merengues, egg whites can be used in many creative ways.
Importantly, boxed egg whites are pasteurized which means the eggs are safe to consume raw (although proper food safety practices and temperature control are still necessary). As a result, boxed egg whites can provide a high-quality protein boost for smoothies, like the one seen above.*
*Smoothies prepared with boxed egg whites are for immediate consumption.
Disclaimer: Conagra Nutrition does not provide medical advice. Information is intended for educational purposes only. For specific nutrition guidance, please consult your regular healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.