This post comes to us courtesy of food writer and registered dietitian Joy Zacharia.
Eggs are like the Rodney Dangerfield of the food world — they get no respect, but for no good reason.
For years, the health care community believed that eggs were unhealthy and could contribute to heart disease because of their high cholesterol content. Doctors and dietitians (like me) told patients to limit eggs to two per week, or better yet, eat only the egg whites. The good news is that research shows that although they are high in cholesterol (213 milligrams of the 300 milligrams recommended per day), for most people, the cholesterol in eggs has only a small effect on blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs are nutritious, containing the highest quality protein available. Egg protein has just the right combination of essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) needed by humans to build tissues. Dietary protein is necessary for bone health, blood sugar balance, controlling body weight and for overall health.
Protein quality is determined by the amino acid composition and its digestibility. For example, eggs and milk have the highest digestibility in the human intestine and contain all nine essential amino acids. In fact, the protein quality in eggs is so high that scientists often use eggs as the gold standard for measuring protein quality. Eggs are second only to breast milk for human nutrition. In addition, eggs have thirteen essential vitamins and minerals, including choline, which may improve brain and memory function, heart health, and even cancer prevention. It’s especially important in developing fetuses and newborns which makes it an important nutrient for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Furthermore, a study published in 2008 and funded by the National Institutes of Health concluded that dietary choline is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. The study examined the diets of 3,000 women and found that the risk of developing breast cancer was 24 percent lower among women with the highest intake of choline compared to women with the lowest intake. Two previously published studies, also supported by National Institutes of Health grants, showed that women who eat choline-rich eggs have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
On top of all the health benefits, eggs are delicious, inexpensive, widely available and highly versatile. Eggs go beyond the breakfast plate, so include them in your family’s lunch and supper plans. Add a hard-cooked egg to your lunch bag for a quick snack that stays with you. Sprinkle chopped egg over your favorite salad or soup. Combine egg, albacore tuna, red onion, mayo and lemon for a delicious, creamy salad, or choose from our hand-picked dozen of luscious recipes highlighting the incredible edible egg.
More Eggcelent Facts:
*A large egg contains about 70 calories and 5 grams of fat.
*All of the egg’s vitamin A, D, and E are in the yolk.
*Eggs are one of the few foods containing vitamin D.
*The yolk contains all of the fat, slightly less than half of the protein, and most of the other nutrients.
*Pasture-raised, free-range hens which primarily forage for their food tend to produce more nutritionally-dense eggs, have less cholesterol and fat, and have higher levels of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fats) than standard factory eggs.
*Eggs work as emulsifiers, which keep oil and water from separating. Think mayonnaise, a mixture of oil, vinegar, and eggs.
About the author: Joy, a registered dietitian, developed a love of food and cooking at age 10 while living in Mexico City when she opted to help peel, chop and shred for elaborate Mexican feasts instead of going outside to play with kids her own age. Joy’s Spanish-Jewish roots cultivated a passion for world food, such as Turkish, Israeli, and Cuban, but her familial struggle with weight led to a career in nutrition. The combination enabled her to embrace the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet without forfeiting amazing flavor. Joy was an associate food editor for magazines such as Southern Living and Cooking Light, developed recipes for Natural Health magazine and various food companies.