The humble egg is a frugal choice for your plate, and it is packed with nutrition. It has also been a controversial food as health professionals vacillated over whether the egg should be valued or vilified. Before outdated admonitions guilt you out of savoring an egg with your next breakfast, get the facts and understand how to get the most out of eggs without jeopardizing your health.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, which you take in when you eat the albumen, or white portion, of the egg and the egg's yolk. Protein is made up of molecules called amino acids, and these micronutrients are responsible for a host of vital roles in your body's form and function. While your body produces half of the 20 amino acids, which are known as nonessential amino acids, the remaining half, known as the essential amino acids, must be obtained through the consumption of protein-based foods, which include eggs.
Eggs are loaded with additional nutrients that do a body good. Many of these nutrients are contained in the yolk. This means that those who shunned the yolk by ordering egg white omelets during the 1990s only deprived their body of some crucial vitamins and minerals. The nutrients that eggs have to offer include the following:
- Vitamins A, B, D, E and K
- Folic acid
Eggs were blacklisted as being high in cholesterol and an enemy in the war on heart disease during the second half of the last century. In actuality, the cholesterol content comes from saturated fat, which is only 28 percent of the total fat that is contained in one chicken egg. This amount poses a less detrimental effect on blood cholesterol levels than the amount of cholesterol found in saturated fats and trans fats found in some meats, cooking oils and processed foods. In fact, most of the fat contained in eggs is unsaturated fat. Eggs are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the good fats that promote cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association has eased up on the egg slander by putting these facts into perspective, revising their dietary guidelines and decreeing that a healthy individual can consume an egg each day without dire repercussions as long as the daily total dietary cholesterol intake does not exceed 300mg. One large chicken egg contains 213mg of cholesterol, and one medium egg contains 164mg.
Fitness gurus, athletes and bodybuilders should take note that the film image of Rocky Balboa downing a shot of raw eggs prior to his workout is not a diet to emulate. In addition to the looming and legitimate concerns of potential salmonella poisoning, a biotin deficiency can result when raw eggs are routinely consumed. Biotin plays roles in the synthesis of proteins and fats and in cellular growth and reproduction. Avidin, which is found in raw egg whites, binds with the biotin, rendering it unusable because the body cannot break this down this bond. Avidin is broken down, however, through the cooking process. Furthermore, when an egg is consumed raw, the body absorbs only half of the protein that the egg has to offer.
Another reason to appreciate the incorporation of eggs into your diet is the versatility in which eggs can be prepared and savored. Cooking methods for eggs include soft-boiled, hard-boiled, poached and scrambled. They can be fried and served as sunny side up or over easy presentations. As omelets, they can be filled with a variety of healthy and delicious choices. Consider some of these tasty, healthy and satisfying options:
- Top a salad of romaine, sun-dried tomatoes and grated Romano cheese with a fried egg.
- Stuff an omelet with zucchini, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, scallions, red onion and Swiss cheese.
- Scramble eggs with black beans and scallions, and top this combination with salsa.
- Create a Mediterranean-inspired frittata by adding spinach, chickpeas, tomatoes and feta cheese to the eggs.
The hens worked hard to bring you so much nutrition packed within those oval shells. As long as you enjoy eggs responsibly, your body will thank you and the hens.
For more information on how you can improve your diet, contact a local healthcare professional like those at Summit View Clinic.