The humble egg: one of nature’s superfoods

by Emma on March 8, 2011

in Health & Nutrition,Ingredients

The humble egg is one of the greatest foods we can put into our mouths and one of nature’s superfoods. Apart from being delicious under a splash of hollandaise, eggs are completely nutritious, reasonable cheap to buy and easy to prepare. It’s no wonder they are so popular!

You’ve probably heart the rumors of eggs being bad for your cholesterol and putting your heart health at risk? This can’t be further from the truth. Scientific research has shown that eggs have little to no impact on blood cholesterol levels or the risk of heart attack. Eggs contain the ‘good’ unsaturated fats that play an important role in the body’s function. The Heart Foundation gave eggs their tick of approval in 2006 and actually recommends we eat up to six eggs a week as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Without a doubt, I get this many in my diet every week!

Most of the nutrition in the egg comes from the yolk – yes the yolk! So none of this egg white omelette business, you are welcome to enjoy the whole egg. Leading Australian dietitian and member of the Egg Nutrition Council (ENC), Sharon Natoli, has this to say about egg nutrition:

“Eggs are one of the few naturally nutrient-dense foods, with one of the highest nutrient-to-kilojoule ratios of all food sources. Basically, this means eggs contain a high percentage of vitamins and minerals in comparison to the energy they provide. In fact, just one egg (52g) contains more than 10% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for over 11 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, and E, iodine, selenium, iron, and folate. One serve of eggs (2 x 60g eggs) provides over 20% of the RDI for protein and a substantial amount of long chain omega 3 fatty acids – or ‘good’ fats – as well as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been linked to the prevention of eye disease.”

Eggs can have a great role in weight management as well, because of their protein content, leaving you fuller for longer and limiting the need to snack later on in the day. Of course you need to have a well balanced diet and get regular exercise to help with weight management as well!

Because of the protein, choline, folate, iron, iodine, vitamin A and vitamin B12 found in eggs, they are a great inclusion into the diet of pregnant women.

Thanks for visiting Love Thy Kitchen. If you subscribe via email you’ll get updates straight to your Inbox, for free!

But there’s too many to choose from…

You might walk to the egg section of your supermarket and not know where to start – cage, free range, vegetarian, double yolk, extra omega 3 – it’s like the Paul’s milk TV commercial! So what’s the difference between all these eggs?

Cage eggs are probably the most common eggs sold in Australia. They come from hens that are permanently in cages inside a shed, and to be honest, their conditions are pretty poor. The upside for chooks in this system is that there is better disease control, protection from predators and lower mortality rates and the farmers can probably keep a lot more of them!

Bard laid eggs come from chooks that have been let to roam around within a shed, which keeps them clean and safe from predators but farmers need to keep a better eye out for disease and attacks from other hens in this system, compared to the cage system. These chooks still don’t get to go outside.

Free range eggs come from chooks that are housed in shed but are free to roam outdoors during the day, causing the chooks to be under significantly less stress. There is obviously more risk for outside predators in this system.

Organic eggs come from free range chooks that have been fed certified organic feed (that is also grown in certified organic soil, free of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and commercial fertilisers.

Vegetarian eggs are less common and come from chooks whose feed is free from animal by-products.

Nutrient enhanced eggs come from chooks where the farmers choose to add certain ingredients to their feed in order to increase the egg’s nutritional content.

Omega 3 enhanced eggs contain a higher concentration of omega 3 fatty acids and higher amounts of vitamin E due to specific nutrients being added to the chook feed.

Double yolk – I’ve never seen these in the supermarket but you may be lucky enough to come across one in your dozen at some stage!

A good thing to know is that in Australia, we don’t import any of our eggs, so you can rest assured that any eggs that you buy in Australia, whether it’s from the supermarket or you local market, is always grown by an Australian farmer – that is more than we can say for much of the food we consume in this country.

Egg tips!

When you’re buying eggs, make sure you don’t have any cracked eggs in your carton before walking off with them. Eggs should also be kept in the fridge – they can last for at least 4 weeks there when left in their carton, which will reduce water loss and protect from other fridge flavours being absorbed into the egg.

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up on free range eggs from my family’s farm. You can definitely see the difference in the colour of the yolks and over all flavour. I’d recommend picking eggs up from your local farmers market if you have the opportunity. Or better yet, buy a chook yourself and house it in your backyard!

How do you like your eggs?

Poached, sunny-side up, boiled with toast soldiers, or toad in a hole? Try some of these: Feta and Spinach Omelette, Mini Onion and Cheese Fritattas, Poached eggs with aioli, baby spinach & truffle salt on ciabatta

Do you think you will put more eggs into your diet based on the egg nutrition you’ve just read about? Where do you get your eggs from and why?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }