The egg is one of nature's best
designs providing everything that a developing chick requires. Its
protective shell is not only strong enough to support the mother hen's
weight as heat is transferred from her body to the chick, but also supplies
all of the chick's dietary requirements of protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Despite concerns about their high cholesterol content and possible
contamination with salmonella, eggs remain a popular and inexpensive source
of nourishment. Any fear of salmonella poisoning can be put aside by
thorough cooking. Fortunately, an egg's overall nutrient content is not
affected by heat.
Eggs are a nutrient powerhouse. Like other animal proteins, those supplied
by eggs contain all the essential amino acids. In one 70-calorie egg, you
get protein, B vitamins, vitamins A and D, zinc, and iron. Eggs are also an
excellent source of vitamin B12, which is essential for proper nerve
function. Because vitamin B12 is found only in animal products, people who
do not eat meat can rely on eggs as an important source of this vitamin.
Eggs are a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, linked to
a reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of
blindness in older adults.
Lecithin – a natural emulsifier found in eggs – is rich in choline, which is
involved in moving cholesterol through the bloodstream, as well a in aiding
fat metabolism. Cholines is also an essential component of cell membranes
and nerve tissue. Although the body can make enough choline for its normal
needs, some researchers have suggested that dietary sources may be helpful
in reducing the accumulation of fat in the liver, as well as repairing some
types of neurological damage. Research suggests that choline may be
important for early brain developments and may improve memory later in life.
THE CHOLESTEROL ISSUE
large egg contains about 70 calories, 6 g of protein, 5 g of fat (of which
less than 2 g is saturated fat), and about 190 mg of cholesterol. Studies
show that for most healthy people, it is the total fat, especially saturated
fat (found in fatty meat, chicken skin, full-fat dairy products, and coconut
and palm oil) and trans fats (found in processed and snack foods), that have
the greatest effect on blood cholesterol levels. In general, dietary
cholesterol is not as important a factor in raising blood cholesterol as
these fats are, but there are some people who are especially sensitive to
the cholesterol in foods and do see a rise in their blood cholesterol after
eating cholesterol-rich meals. For these people, and for people whose blood
cholesterol is already elevated, it is generally suggested to limit egg yolk
consumption to 3 to 4 per week.
Only the yolks of eggs contain cholesterol; therefore, egg whites need not
be restricted. In fact, the whites can be used to replace whole eggs or just
the yolks in many recipes without detriment to their taste or texture. For
example, you can replace one whole egg with two whites, or you can
substitute beaten whites instead of a whole egg to coat foods for frying.
You can also buy pourable liquid egg-white products that can be used for
baking and omelettes.
CONFUSING EGG LABELS
such as "farm-laid" or "country-fresh" can conjure up misleading images; the
hens that laid the eggs may well have been confined to cages. Although the
term "free rage" may suggest that the chickens are pecking freely in a
farmyard, it can be legally applied to the eggs of caged hens if they have
daytime access to open runs. In reality, there is very little nutritional
difference between free-range eggs and eggs from caged hens.
Whatever the labeling, always open the carton to inspect the eggs before you
buy them. Reject any eggs that have cracked or blemished shells. Gently rub
your fingers across the top of the eggs to ensure none are stuck to the
bottom of the box. It is a myth that brown eggs are more nutritious than
white ones, even though many supermarkets charge a higher price for brown
eggs. Both are equally nutritious; they just come from different breeds of
Keep eggs in
the main part of the refrigerator, which is cooler than the shelves on the
inside of the door. Store the pointed end of the egg down, so that the yolk
remains centered in the shell away from the air pocket at the larger end.
Leave eggs in their original dated carton to keep track of when you bought
them. Refrigerated eggs can be kept safely for up to 3 weeks.
EGGS AND ALLERGIES
among the foods most likely to trigger allergic reactions. People who are
allergic to eggs should be on the lookout for obvious sources, such as
mayonnaise and sauces, pancakes, waffles, and bakery items, as well as
sherbets and ice cream. They should always check food labels for telltale
terms. These include albumin, globulin, ovomucin, and vitellin, which are
all ingredients derived from eggs. Those allergic to eggs should also avoid
flu shots and other vaccines incubated in eggs.
enhanced eggs are new to the egg world. They are laid by hens fed a diet
high in flaxseed. Their yolk is rich in omega-3 fats, the polyunsaturated
fats associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke. These eggs are
low in saturated fat and are a better source of vitamin E than regular eggs.
Liquid egg products, enriched with the same high-quality omega-3 fatty acids
normally found in fish have also become available. These contain 80 percent
less cholesterol, 50 percent less fat and calories than regular eggs,and are
an excellent source of protein. They can be used anywhere you would use a
regular whole beaten egg such as in baking, scrambled eggs, or omelettes.