For cancer patients struggling with nutrition, give eggs a try

Siddhi Shroff

Siddhi Shroff

Written by Siddhi Shroff, a registered dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Cancer treatment can cause many patients to experience taste and appetite changes, which can affect their overall nutrition. For patients undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or other cancer treatment, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting calories and protein even when your appetite is affected.

One easy way to do that is by incorporating eggs into your diet. Eggs are a great source of nutrition that can be prepared to suit your taste preference.

Sure, eggs are typically breakfast food, but they are versatile enough to be eaten in different forms. Thanks to their softer texture, eggs are easy to chew and swallow when cooked. They can also be easier to eat when treatment causes changes to your mouth, tongue or throat that affect nutrition and appetite.

Next time you feel your appetite is lacking, try mixing it up with different kinds of egg dishes. In addition to adding variety to your diet, eggs are also rich in protein, choline, B vitamins and cholesterol.

  • Protein: Eggs contain six grams of protein, which is 12 percent of the daily value for most adults. Additional protein in the diet can help to heal tissues and fight infection, especially after surgery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Animal sources of protein like eggs provide all the amino acids you need.
  • Choline: Choline is vital to proper functioning of all cells, including metabolism, and is essential to the structure of cells. One egg has approximately 147 mg of choline, which is 20 percent of the daily value for this nutrient.
  • B vitamins: Eggs are an excellent source of B vitamins, which help your body convert food into energy and help your immune system stay healthy. In addition, eggs also have antioxidants that help keep your cells healthy.
  • Cholesterol: Even though cholesterol has developed a bad reputation in recent years, the cholesterol in eggs does not adversely affect blood cholesterol. Eating eggs can actually help elevate your HDL cholesterol, considered the “good” cholesterol, which can reduce your risk for a number of diseases.
  • Low sodium, low in saturated fat: Eggs are also low in sodium and saturated fat, so they are a good addition to help balance your daily diet.

You can incorporate eggs into foods throughout your day with foods like breakfast burritos, herbed Spanish omelets and egg and roasted red pepper wraps. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to get creative to help your appetite.


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