Eating Healthy by Eating Cheap

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Weird news from the food world: The government says cheap staples like eggs and walnuts are healthier than ever, while even college students are eating healthier - and more exotic.

Talks about sunny side up: A cheap breakfast is now healthier than ever, says new research.

When the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service analyzed eggs for the first time since 2002, they found that the staple had 14 percent less cholesterol and 64 percent more vitamin D than previously thought.

“Eggs are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of vitamin D,” which, the American Egg Board’s explains, “plays an important role in calcium absorption, helping to form and maintain strong bones.”

So what’s the down side here? There really isn’t one. The USDA’s research also found that eggs are still packed with nutritious protein.

“The amount of protein in one large egg – 6 grams of protein or 12 percent of the Recommended Daily Value – remains the same, and the protein in eggs is one of the highest quality proteins found in any food. Eggs are all‐natural, and one egg has lots of vitamins and minerals all for 70 calories,”  says (which, of course, is biased). “At less than 15 cents apiece, eggs are an affordable and delicious breakfast option.”

For more egg nutrition info, visit the Agriculture Research Service website (which includes the searchable National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference).

Go nuts

For another form of protein that’s low in cholesterol and high in health benefits, try a walnut. Given the USDA’s recently revised dietary guidelines – which call for us to eat less sodium and bad fats (i.e., saturated and trans fats), among other no-nos – the California Walnut Commission believes their nuts are now better than ever.

“Walnuts just happen to be sodium and cholesterol free and a great source of ‘good’ fat,” they announced in a recent press release, backed by diet expert and Cornell University professor Brian Wansink. “Unique among nuts, walnuts are the only nut that is an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 essential, polyunsaturated fatty acid, required by the human body” (see right).

But the benefits don’t stop there. Walnuts are also high in antioxidants, fiber (2 grams), and protein (4 grams). “These nutrient dense nuts,” the CWC says, “offer more. Over 15 years of clinical research has started to uncover numerous potential health benefits of walnuts involving heart health, diabetes, cancer, weight management and cognitive behavior.”

To learn more about the wonderful walnut, including free recipes, visit the California Walnut Commission’s website,

College diet improves

Elsewhere in the world of random foods news, even college students want to eat healthier these days – and they’re making more adventurous, if not necessarily cheaper, choices in the process.

Sodexo, which supplies food to 650 campuses across the U.S., recently released its College Food Trends 2011 survey results. They show that “college students crave heart-healthy Mediterranean food, chefs preparing their meals while they wait with VIP treatment, old favorites made with healthier ingredients, world cuisine, and using technology for dining.”

So what exactly are these young adults craving? According to Sodexo’s latest food trends list…

  • Grilled chicken souvlaki kabob
  • Paella
  • Spanakopita
  • Cous cous chicken stew
  • Orecchiette with broccoli and garbanzo beans
  • Fattoush and sumac (pita bread salad with tangy dressing)
  • Spanish tomato bread with manchego cheese
  • Edamame and corn salad
  • Pesto pasta bowl
  • Wild mushroom risotto balls with pesto aioli

And here we thought eggs and walnuts were starting to sound exciting…

Stacy Johnson

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