- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Sept. 19, 2012
Eggs and heart disease — still controversial
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
If you're like most people, you're not too concerned about the cholesterol in your diet and your risk of heart disease. However, some researchers suggest it's time to reopen the discussion on eggs and heart disease. A recent study published in the medical journal "Atherosclerosis" found that egg yolk consumption appears to damage and thicken the arteries, almost to the same degree as smoking.
The study looked at egg yolk consumption in about 1,200 people with a history of transient ischemic attacks (small strokes where symptoms disappear). It found that those who ate three or more yolks a week had significant amounts of plaque build-up compared with those who ate two or fewer yolks a week.
Narrowing of the arteries was on average about two-thirds of that seen in studies of heavy smokers — a finding that both eggs and smoking accelerate plaque build-up. These findings remained after adjusting for other coronary risk factors such as of gender, blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes and smoking.
Although three or more yolks a week significantly increased plaque build-up in people already at risk for heart disease in this study, other studies have shown that eggs (specifically the cholesterol in yolks) do not have adverse effect on blood lipids and that yolks contain antioxidants which may be protective.
What is my take?
- The yolk of one large egg has about 185 milligrams (mg) cholesterol — one of the most concentrated sources of cholesterol.
- Current recommendations from the American Heart Association are that Americans eat less that 300 mg daily to help maintain normal cholesterol levels. Consuming less than 200 mg of cholesterol daily can further help individuals at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
- The Dietary Guidelines for Americans found that the average cholesterol intake among men is about 350 mg a day and among women it's 240 mg a day.
- The Dietary Guidelines also state that egg and egg dishes contribute a whopping 25 percent of our cholesterol intake.
What's the take-home message? Although eggs don't seem to be associated with heart disease risk in healthy people, the same is not true for people already at risk of heart disease. You should know your risk for heart disease. If you're at risk, you're better off eating fewer yolks. If you're not at risk, you should still be sensible about cholesterol intake, especially when there are so many healthy food choices available.
Opinions are welcome!
- Jenniferblog index
- Spence JD, et al. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis. 2012. In press. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Zampelas A. Still questioning the association between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Atherosclerosis. 2012. In press. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Diet and lifestyle recommendations. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 18, 2012.