We often hear debates about how often we should consume eggs. Should you be eating an egg every day? Most certainly!
Eggs are incredible; they are more than just a great source of protein and fat, they also contain other nutrients that can be hard to find elsewhere such as choline, selenium, and omega 3 fatty acids! They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin! Let’s breakdown the nutrient composition of eggs, set straight a few health myths, and talk about great ways to use these versatile morsels in your cooking!
Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods provided to us by animals. Think of it, if it can nourish the growth of an entire animal, it can surely nourish us! Eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals while only being 70 calories. They are a great source of high quality protein, especially if you are an active individual. Eggs are high in the amino acid leucine which supports the building of muscle tissue. The yolks are rich in healthy fats and fat soluble vitamins (like D, E and A), especially if they are “pasture raised.” Eggs that come from chickens who are able to roam free, eating grasses, bugs, and basking in sunlight will be labeled pasture raised in the grocery store. They tend to be higher in some nutrients, especially Omega-3s, fats that are critical for good health but often under consumed in the western diet. Eggs are one of the best sources of the nutrient choline. Choline is necessary for nervous system health, energy production, and DNA synthesis. Selenium, another nutrient that’s hard to find elsewhere but is rich in eggs, supports important processes such as thyroid function and antioxidant protection. It helps activate T3, an active thyroid hormone and is an important building block for enzymes that neutralize free radicals in the body. The antioxidants in eggs (lutein and zeaxanthin) are crucial for good eye health and are best absorbed with a source of fat, like those found in the yolk! All of this amazing nutrition is perfectly packed into one small egg!
People used to be worried about the cholesterol content of egg yolks being bad for the cardiovascular system and were warned not to eat eggs very often or to only eat the whites of eggs. However, most of the nutrients, healthy fats, and even some of the protein is found in the yolk! After more research, it was found that consuming dietary cholesterol doesn’t raise your risk of heart disease like once thought, and in fact, egg consumption can be protective to your heart! There have also been studies showing that that eating eggs can improve other areas of health such as brain development, healthy body weight, eye health, and healthy pregnancies!
The many uses
Eggs just might be the most versatile food on the planet. There was an old French chef who claimed he could fix an egg 100 different ways! It isn’t hard to believe him, especially when you think passed scrambled, over-easy, poached, sunny-side up, boiled, baked, or fried eggs and start to think of egg white meringues and yolk-rich custards…there really is a lot you do! Eggs lend structure and leavening to baked goods, they help bind ingredients (like meatballs, or crab-cakes,) thicken sauces, and emulsify oils for dressings or mayonnaise. Get creative with these versatile little morsels. Try baking an egg with a few veggies or slices of ham in muffin tins for a quick breakfast on the go! Add a hard-boiled egg to sandwiches, salads, rice bowls or even burgers! If you don’t love the texture of eggs, try adding them to pancakes, waffles, or other batters to increase the nutrient potential! If you are looking to increase the protein in a homemade granola recipe, add some whipped egg whites. Don’t throw out those yolks, save them for whole grain banana bread or homemade mayonnaise!
A word of caution
While some people enjoy the taste and texture of runny, or undercooked yolks (which is safe if you use pasteurized eggs) raw egg whites should be avoided. Uncooked egg whites contain the protein, “avidin” which binds to biotin and keeps your body from being able to use it! Biotin is necessary for healthy metabolism, nervous, digestive and cardiovascular systems, yet another reason to quit eating all that cookie dough!
Eggs are packed full of nutrients, versatile, quick-cooking, filling, and are great to include in your diet each day! Try creative recipes that aren’t your typical scrambled, deviled, fried or poached and eat an egg every day. For some quick, incredibly easy egg recipes that can be had any time of day, not just for breakfast, check out the ones below!