In an Eggshell: Ingredients of Life
Scrambled Facts & Poached Reputation
Eggs have symbolized life, fertility and birth among various religions and cultures. The history of eggs as a highly regarded food dates back to ancient times. While eggs have high nutritional value, most people are not aware of the full benefits of consuming eggs. Despite its rotten reputation of containing too much fats responsible for high cholesterol levels, eggs are actually very nutritious. They are not just a source of fat and protein. In fact, they contain a wide array of essential vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients that are necessary for optimal health.
Eggs are a very good source of vitamin B2, B5, B12 and vitamin D. Egg yolks are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. Additionally, the fat soluble vitamins A, E and K are found in the egg yolk. The vitamin B family is responsible for proper energy metabolism. Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and a properly functioning immune system. It provides a wide array of defenses against illness and disorders. Very few foods contain naturally occurring vitamin D (cholecalciferol) in levels that can be beneficial to our health.
Eggs re a very good source of selenium and iodine. It is also considered a good source of molybdenum and phosphorus. Phosphorus is involved in virtually all chemical reactions in the body. It works with calcium and Vitamin D synergistically. Phosphorus is important for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells, and the production of energy. It also assists other nutrients and hormones function properly, and is necessary for normal bone and tooth structure. It performs more functions than any other mineral.
Selenium is a component of glutathione peroxidase, which possesses antioxidant activity, and demonstrates antioxidant properties in humans. It aids the process of detoxification. Selenium is an essential component of thirty proteins. Brazil nuts has the highest concentration of selenium. Mushrooms are also a natural source of selenium. Selenium and Vitamin E have a positive affect on the prostate keeping it healthy. Men need more selenium than women due to the loss of sperm during intercourse. Selenium also enhances the mobility of sperms which aids fertilization.
It also contains magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc and sulfur. Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulfur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals. Many people find their hair growing faster after adding eggs to their diet, especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulfur or B12.
Egg yolks are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that can prevent macular degeneration and cataracts so you can still be able to see clearly as you advance in age. Eggs contain higher amounts of lutein than any other food source. A study done by the American Dietetic Association Conference in 2003 suggested that consuming foods rich in lutein may be effective to boost the concentration of lutein in the eye and can be an alternative to taking supplements.
An egg is a very good source of choline, and has about 300 micrograms per egg. Egg yolks are the richest source of choline, followed by soybeans. According to Iowa State University researchers, almost 90 percent of Americans suffer from choline deficiency. Low dietary choline intake can severely impact our brain, cardiovascular and nervous system. In addition, choline is a highly important molecule in a process called methylation. Many chemical reactions in the body are made possible by methylation, when methyl groups are transferred from one place to another. Our genes can be switched on or off in this way, and our cells use methylation to send messages back and forth. Choline, which has three methyl groups, plays an active role in this process. Choline is also a key component of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that carries messages to and from nerves. Acetylcholine is the body’s primary means of communication between nerves and muscles. Choline can reduce inflammation.
Foods rich in choline should be regular contributors to your diet. Two large eggs provide about 250 milligrams of choline, a bit less than half of the recommended daily supply, and also contain over 600 milligrams of phosphatidylcholine. It is the phosphatidylcholine that is the most common form in which choline is used cell membranes. Foods rich in choline include beef liver, dried soy beans, wheat germ, cod, chicken and salmon, in that order.
Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein, providing around 6 grams of protein in one egg for only 70 calories. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein. We rely on animal and vegetable protein for our supply of amino acids. Eggs provide all of the 9 essential amino acids in humans. Egg whites contain the purest form of protein found in whole-foods. It is so high that nutritionists use it as the standard when comparing other whole-food proteins. This is why many bodybuilders include eggs in their diet. When a person eats beef, for instance, all of the protein is not necessarily absorbed and used to rebuild tissue. Eggs contain a certain sequence of amino acids that makes egg protein easy for your body to absorb. That means that a hard-boiled grade-AA egg is a great muscle-repairing food after a workout. The yolk of an egg also contains a good amount of the amino acid cysteine, a nutrient that is usually lacking in our bodies. Not having enough of sulfur amino acids during physical training may cause inflammation. Cysteine can be used to increase SAMe, GSH, taurine, and NAC levels and to promote detoxification.
They contain the right kinds of fats. One egg contains about 5 grams of fat and 1.5 grams of that is saturated fat. And research has shown that saturated fat intake in not a major cause of heart disease and that it may actually protect against heart disease because it raises good cholesterol more than it raises HDL. The truth is, saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones. They are necessary nutrients. When you eat saturated fats with a meal, they slow down absorption so that you feel full for a longer time. In addition, they act as carriers for vitamins A, D, E and K. Some eggs also have good amounts of omega-3 fats. The chickens fed with flax seeds, greens and grubs lay eggs rich in omega-3 fats.
Contrary to popular belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it. Research suggests that it is trans fat and hydrogenated fats that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol. Most of the cholesterol does not go into your bloodstream and into your arteries. For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood. Hydrogenated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels.
Researchers found that obese people who ate a two-egg breakfast at least five times a week lost 65 percent more weight and had more energy than women who breakfasted on bagels. Eggs are more satisfying than carbs, and keep you feeling full for a longer time.
Contrary to common belief, eggshell color has nothing to do with the quality, flavor, nutritional value, cooking characteristics or shell thickness of an egg. The eggshell color depends only upon the breed of the hen. According to the Egg Nutrition Council, “white shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and white ear lobes and brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. Yolk color depends on what the chicken ate: wheat and barley produce a light yolk, corn a medium-yellow yolk, and marigold petals a deep yellow. Though not a sure indication, darker yellow yolks may have more omega-3s and carotenoids. There is no difference in taste or nutrition content between white and brown colored eggs. Most eggs contain the same basic ingredients, and the large ones pack only 70 calories each. But depending on your diet, special eggs may be worth the extra cash. Some eggs may be contaminated with harmful chemicals and hormones. If you are concerned about this, organic eggs may be an option. These eggs were laid by chickens that were not fed contaminated food, antibiotics, or certain additives.Organic eggs, from chickens fed an organic diet, do not have more nutrients than conventionally produced eggs, though some people may prefer them as a way to support organic production and reduce the amount of harmful chemicals we ingest. If fish is not a regular part of your diet, omega-3 enhanced eggs can be an option to increase your intake of essential fatty acids. “Designer” eggs, from chickens fed special diets usually contain more lutein, vitamin E, and/or heart-healthy omega-3 fats. But they rarely provide enough extra nutrients to be worth their higher cost. Eggs that claim to be rich in omega-3s, for example, contain only a small amount compared to fatty fish, such as salmon.
Always store eggs in a refrigerator in a covered container to ensure they do not lose moisture or absorb odors from other items kept in the fridge. Do not wash them as this can remove their protective coating. Do not store them in the refrigerator door because this exposes them to too much heat when the refrigerator is opened and closed. Store them with their pointed end facing downward because this will help to prevent the yolk from being displaced. They should last for about a month this way.
Some people may be concerned with risk of infections from ingestion of eggs. To destroy the bacteria, eggs must be cooked at high enough temperatures for a sufficient length of time to destroy the bacteria. Soft-cooked, sunny-side up or raw eggs carry salmonella risk even if the shell was not cracked. Hard-boiled, scrambled, or poached eggs don’t.
Common misconceptions keep many people, especially people concerned with heart disease, from eating eggs as a routine part of their diet. Considering the nutrition profile of eggs, it may be wise to change that perception and start incorporating them into our diets more. The evidence is in that eggs, whether beaten, scrambled, poached, boiled or eaten raw, can provide many benefits to our well-being. After all, eggs contain everything necessary to create and sustain life for countless animals on this planet. While chickens are not the only animals that lay eggs that are enjoyed in various cuisines, it is the type discussed in this article because it is the most accessible in the US.