All About Eggs…

Eggs as a source of protein

Eggs are one of the best sources of high-quality protein. A large egg has 6 grams of protein along with nine essential amino acids in the right ratio. They are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron, and copper. Eggs are delicious and can be made in so many different ways. They are easily available, relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and easy to cook. Even a few vegetarians consume eggs and that’s what makes it the most consumed protein source on a regular basis.

Whole egg vs egg white

This is probably a debate that’s as old as egg first or chicken. Typically egg yolks get thrown into the dustbins as they have high cholesterol. One large egg has about 184 milligrams cholesterol. However, recent studies2 show that dietary cholesterol is not as problematic as it was believed earlier. In a study3 it was found that an increase in dietary cholesterol intake results in only a minimal increase in the total/high-density lipoprotein (Total : HDL) cholesterol ratio.

Egg white has most of the protein, while yolk has most of the other nutrients like vitamin B, A, D, E, Iron, Calcium, Zink, and phospholipids. Thus having a whole egg is always a better idea unless you are on a specific restricted diet prescribed by your doctor.

Is it safe to consume raw eggs?

  1. Protein Absorption:  Protein in cooked eggs has higher digestibility and bioavailability. Heating eggs denatures the proteins in the eggs making them more accessible for our digestive enzymes and hence can get more easily absorbed. The absorption of protein in a cooked egg is over 90% as compared to 50% in raw egg.
  2. Antinutrients: An anti-nutrient avidin found in egg binds to biotin in the intestines and hampers the Biotin absorption, causing deficiency of Biotin. The cooking process denatures this anti-nutrient.
  3. Salmonella: As per a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health1 Salmonella contamination of eggs and eggshells has been identified as a public health concern. Salmonella is a bacteria that is found in eggs. Salmonella grows especially when there are large numbers of birds kept in small cages. The pasteurizing process arrests Salmonella in the eggshell and reduces scare to some extend in eggs. As a good practice, while buying eggs be sure eggs are clean and un-cracked. If there are any bacteria in the eggs, it will grow rapidly at room temperature, hence always buy eggs that have been refrigerated and refrigerate them if you are not consuming them immediately. Salmonella cannot live at high temperatures, hence cooking an egg is a safe way to get rid of this bacteria.

Best way to cook eggs?

You can have eggs in any form at any meal. The most known options are Egg omelet, Scrambled Egg, Boiled Egg, Poached Egg, Adding egg to dishes like fried rice, noodles, etc.. Any option can be healthy if other ingredients like vegetables, oils used are healthy as well. If however, you are conscious about added oil then a boiled egg is the best option.

White Vs Brown Eggs

There is a misconception in the health industry that everything that is brown is better than white. Like brown sugar being seen as a healthy alternative to white sugar. Similarly, even brown eggs are seen as healthier than white eggs. This is not true, the color and size of an egg are determined by the breed of the hen and has no relation with its nutritional value. Hens of different breeds can produce white, cream, brown, blue, green eggs, of a variety of sizes.

Organic / Free-range/ Fortified eggs

Years back when I was a child staying in a village, everything including egg was organic by default. As the demand for eggs grew exponentially, the production process was scaled up by introducing poultry farms. In these farms, hens are kept crowded in confined spaces and are fed hormone rich food instead of what they would naturally eat like worms or bugs. This is done to increase the production of eggs. Moreover, due to the crowding, there is a fear of infection and hence these birds are injected with antibiotics. These hormones and antibiotics are transferred onto the eggs and have adverse effects on the human body when we consume them. Hens in these farms are also not raised ethically and they are not happy or healthy in this kind of an environment.

Organic Eggs

Organic is another trending word in the health industry these days, however, in the case of eggs, it holds a lot of truth. Organic eggs are the eggs produced by hens which are given only organic feed and no antibiotics are used unless required the case of the disease. They do have some outdoor access and are not as crowded as commercial farms.

Cage-Free Eggs

Cage-free eggs are slightly better than mass-produced eggs since the hens are not confined to cages.  But these hens still get antibiotics. They do not qualify to be called organic as the feed they receive is GMO feed and not organic.

Fortified Eggs

Fortified eggs available in the market are produced by hens who are fed fortified feed which is high in omega3 like flax seeds. These might offer slightly better nutritional value to the eggs but still, these are mass-produced from caged hens and do have antibiotics and hormones in them.

Conclusion

Eggs are great to consume on a daily basis to help fulfill your daily requirement of protein. But moderation is a very important factor that one should remember while consuming eggs. A healthy ult can safely consume up to 3 whole eggs per day. Avoid fad diets like “Egg Diet” to consume excessive eggs which can cause nutritional imbalance.  Pay attention to the quality of the eggs you purchase. Keep them refrigerated and consume only fresh eggs. Stay Healthy! Stay Safe!!

 

References

1 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25730295/

2 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/cholesterol/

3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16596800/

4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303863/

5 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924224417307252

 

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Shilpa is an entrepreneur, blogger, certified yoga instructor, and certified nutritionist.

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