Egg powder may be the next supplement to take on malnutrition

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / UserGI15966731
Getty Images / UserGI15966731

Related tags egg powder Malnutrition

New research suggests egg powder may be the key to tackling malnutrition in developing countries. Because eggs are not widely available in areas impacted by malnutrition, researchers point to egg powder as an inexpensive and convenient alternative.

A new international study, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition​, focused on assessing the nutritional value of spray-dried eggs. The authors, led by the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich (LSB), noted eggs were favorable due to their manufacturability, storability and ease of addition to complementary foods. When stacked against pasteurized whole egg, egg powder contains fewer essential fatty acids while still providing plenty of vitamins, essential amino acids, and important trace elements. Additionally, egg powder boasts a very long shelf life (sans preservatives) and minimal water content.

Due to its minimal water content, it has a significantly longer shelf life as well as a relatively high nutrient density. In addition, it is easier to store and transport than eggs, and it can be easily added to food. This makes it interesting as a potential dietary supplement.

Consuming hen eggs on a regular basis may help prevent nutrient deficiencies such as essential amino acids, vitamin A and E or trace elements zinc and selenium, especially for vulnerable populations. “Studies show that adding one egg a day to complementary food can help reduce the incidence of underweight in older infants by 74%, as well as counteract the so-called ‘stunting’ effect,”​ said lead author Veronika Somoza, director of LSB.

Nutritional value, no heavy metals

With little known about the nutritional value of egg powder, the researchers conducted an extensive comparative study. Using state-of-the-art food chemistry analysis methods, the team identified the separate nutrient profiles of three batches of industrially produced, pasteurized whole eggs, as well as egg powder processed from eggs. The team then compared those samples on a dry matter basis.

egg1

“As our analyses showed, the drying process did not lead to an accumulation of the heavy metals cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury,”​ observed lead study author Philip Pirkwieser, PhD chemist at LSB.

Additionally, the team observed little or no loss in total fat content, essential amino acid content, important trace elements or carotenoids. Likewise, vitamin E (alpha- and gamma-tocopherol) and vitamin B12 concentrations remained nearly constant. However, vitamin A (retinol) levels decreased by 14%. The amount of vital omega-6 decreased by 39% and omega-3 fatty acids dropped by an average of 61%.

“Despite the small loss of retinol, egg powder is a valuable source of vitamin A. Sub-Saharan African regions in particular could benefit from this. This is because vitamin A deficiency is widespread there and leads to a high prevalence of vision problems,”​ Somoza concluded.

Indeed, a daily intake of egg powder equivalent to one medium-sized egg is sufficient to cover 24% percent of a child's daily requirement for vitamin A, 100% for vitamin E, 61% for selenium and 22% for zinc, give or take depending on age.

Egg powder as a supplement

The authors theorize that if they can increase the amount of essential fatty acids and vitamin A found in egg powder, the full potential of egg powder as a food supplement is a real possibility. One potential option to achieve this is via chicken feed enriched with these fatty acids and vitamins.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
9. 10.3389/fnut.2022.984715. www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2022.984715/full
“Evaluation of spray-dried eggs as a micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement”
Authors: P. Pirkwieser et al.

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