The Sunny Side Of Eggs
Eggs are yet another food on which the FDA has completely flipped its opinion. In the past, the consensus on eggs was that they should be eaten in moderation, due to their high levels of cholesterol. Recently, however, the “Incredible, Edible Egg” has made a huge comeback after nutritionists discovered that the cholesterol found in eggs does not affect our bodies as previously thought. The increase of LDL cholesterol (that is, “good cholesterol”) balances out the increase of HDL (“bad cholesterol”) making the overall effect on your blood’s cholesterol level insignificant.
So should we be eating eggs again? YEP! Here is why:
1. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein available. A medium-sized egg contains approximately 6.5 grams of high quality protein. In fact, their unique amino acids make them the most easily digestible protein for humans.
2. Egg yolks are packed with choline. Choline is responsible for reducing inflammation in your body, increasing fat metabolism and liver function, protecting against heart disease, brain development (while in the womb), lifelong memory, and even assists in making us… well, happy. Yep, you read that right. It seems egg yolks make us happy by helping to produce happy-inducing hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norephinephrine. Hooray! Pass the eggs please. In addition, choline has been linked to reducing breast cancer! Now that makes me very, very happy indeed.
3. Eggs are high in sulphur. Sulphur is necessary for the production of keratin and collagen. If you want strong nails (yes, please), healthy hair (absolutely), and glowing skin (um…duh), eggs should definitely be a part of your diet.
4. Eggs supply important vitamins and minerals. Vitamin A (which is important for healthy eyesight, immune system and skin), Vitamin B2 (important for helping your body convert food into energy), Vitamin B12 (helps produce red blood cells), Vitamin E (aids in keeping muscles, nervous system and reproductive system healthy, and protects against free radicals that might lead to cellular damage), Vitamin D (aids in the absorption of calcium), and K2 (directs calcium to the bones). Eggs are a great source of vital minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorus, and magnesium. There are also trace amounts of iodine, which is vital to the production of thyroid hormones, as well as selenium, an antioxidant that helps reduce your risk of cancer.
5. Eggs help to protect your eyesight. Egg yolks contain large amounts of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that help to build up the retina and protect our eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration.
6. Eating eggs helps you (Drum roll please…) LOSE WEIGHT! A study conducted at the Rochester Center for Obesity Research found that people who consumed eggs for breakfast cut their caloric intake by more than 400 calories. This equals approximately 3 pounds or more pounds per month. Hooray! So by skipping the bagel and eating the egg, not only are you gaining more protein and important vitamins and minerals, but you are staying fuller longer, which leads to fewer calories consumed throughout the day. Warning: stay away from the normal breakfast foods that usually accompany eggs. All you want is the egg, folks. Stay away from the bacon, toast, pancakes, sausage, hash browns and juice!
This doesn’t mean go out and chug a dozen raw eggs like Rocky Balboa. Slow down folks. In fact, always ask your doctor before drastically altering your diet. And don’t put all your eggs in one basket, either. A balanced diet that includes a wide variety of healthy foods is best.
In addition, here are a few egg-related facts (a half dozen to be exact) that you need to keep in mind:
1. An egg comes out of a chicken’s a@#. Hello? Salmonella poisoning is a very real thing, people. Fecal contamination can occur during the laying process as well as while the egg is forming. In the U.S., all egg products are pasteurized. This kills all the bacteria. Some grocery stores carry pasteurized eggs in the shell, but not all. If you like your eggs runny, I suggest you only use pasteurized eggs. Which brings me the the next point.
2. Cook your eggs until the yolk is firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny unless you are using pasteurized eggs. The best way cook an egg without disturbing the integrity of the nutrients is to hard-boil them. There are a lot of various boiling techniques out there. Mine? I place the eggs in very hot, but not yet boiling, water. (This is because I’ve had many accidents with scalding water while I was attempting to drop in the egg. Ouch!) Once the eggs are in the water, set the timer for 10 minutes. Bring the water to a boil. Once the timer dings, turn off the heat and allow the eggs to sit in the water for another 5 minutes. They turn out perfect every time. You want the yolk fully cooked. If there is a gray ring around the yolk, you have cooked them too long and they will be chalky.
3. If you think washing your eggs is a good idea, think again. Water can seep through the pores of the shell and start to grow bacteria. Washing also removes the protective coating put on the eggs by the chicken. USDA-graded eggs have already been “washed” in a process that does not compromise the shell.
4. Avoid eggs with cracked shells, unless of course you crack it in the cooking process. Cracked eggs have a much higher chance to breed bacteria.
5. Eat fresh eggs. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, if you take them out of the container and store them on the shelf of your refrigerator door, like I do, you will undoubtedly lose track of their “best before” date. If you are unsure if an egg is old, place it in a glass of water. If the egg sinks, it is fresh. If, on the other hand, the egg floats, it’s old.
6. Contrary to popular belief, brown eggs are no more nutritious than white eggs. They are simply laid by different colored hens. White hens lay white eggs. Brown hens lay brown eggs. So, although the color doesn’t contribute to nutritional value, there are other things to consider. Not ALL eggs are created equal. Some chickens spend their whole lives in a cage and are injected with hormones to increase egg production. I only choose eggs from free-range or organically raised chickens. I like to think the chicken was happy and emotionally stable when it was laying the egg. Some markets also carry “omega-3 eggs.” These eggs, although more expensive, have a higher nutritional value. By giving their chickens feed that is rich in omega-3, farmers have been able to significantly raise the omega-3 fatty acid content of the egg that these chickens lay.