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Eggs

Eggs

 

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

A 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

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 chicken.

 

STORING EGGS

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

Eggs are 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.

 

OMEGA-3 EGGS

Omega-3 fat 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.

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