Easter 'Eggstasy'

Kids Sunday may be hunting for Easter eggs that are lower in fat and cholesterol than the eggs their older siblings scrambled for years ago.

Several eggs that are healthier than the average egg are on the market or are only a few years away from hitting stores. Research and production of "designer eggs" that are better for consumers is taking off, members of the egg industry said.

"This is the wave of the future," said John Wilson, vice president of Cyncron Corp., which has developed eggs that have a little more than 25 percent less saturated fat and cholesterol than the average egg. "I hope it will turn around things so that people start viewing eggs as healthy again."

Cyncron eggs, which also boast 40 percent more protein than average eggs, will probably arrive in stores in about two years and should have a longer shelf life than the average egg, Wilson said. The New Jersey-based company is waiting to receive official approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Other eggs that companies say are healthier than normal are already on the market. Eggstasy, a product of Wisconsin-based Egg Innovations, has been in stores since 1994 and can be found in 25 states, including Florida, Texas and Colorado.

Eggstasy claims to have 25 percent less fat and 17 percent less cholesterol than the average egg. It has three times the amount of vitamin E found in normal eggs, said John Brunnquell, president of Egg Innovations, which markets organic, free-range and other types of eggs in addition to Eggstasy.

Brunnquell said soon shoppers would start choosing eggs by brand name and read nutrition labels as they do for cereal and bread.

"I want to be to branded eggs what (Henry) Ford was to cars and (Orville) Redenbacher was to popcorn," he said.

All of the researchers interviewed said reducing fat and cholesterol in eggs does not affect taste.

U.S. shoppers buy 2.5 billion eggs during the two weeks before Easter. In an average week outside of Easter, consumers purchase 882 million eggs, the American Egg Board said.

The average non-designer egg has about five grams of fat and 213 milligrams of cholesterol. Cholesterol and fat in eggs are found in yolks, not in the whites.

The U.S. Agriculture Department recommends people consume no more than 65 grams of fat a day, including only 20 grams of saturated fat. To stay healthy, USDA recommends individuals consume no more than 300 milligrams a day of cholesterol.

High amounts of cholesterol and fat have been linked to greater risk of heart disease and other health problems.

Linda Braun, consumer services director of the American Egg Board, said that although eating non-designer eggs does not pose a health risk for the typical U.S. consumer, designer eggs are fulfilling a demand from health-conscious consumers.

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