Food for Thought
Eggs got beat up a while back when the media went cholesterol crazy. Eggs were cast with full-fat cheeses and rich meats as heart-unhealthy villains in our diets (the latter two are still on the B list). Today, eggs are on the culinary—and nutritional—red carpet. In fact, many urban dwellers are now raising their own backyard hens. Why the change of heart? Here, from the Egg Nutrition Center in Park Ridge, Illinois, are a handful of reasons why eggs are making a comeback:
Facts. Eggs are nutrient-dense and a good source of all-natural, high-quality protein. They provide 13 vitamins and minerals in varying amounts at 70 calories per large egg. They are a strong example of a nutrient-dense food.
Protein. Both egg yolks and egg whites are good sources of high-quality protein; almost half the protein and the majority of the other nutrients are in the egg yolks.
Fat. Most of the fat in eggs is unsaturated. While egg yolks are a concentrated source of dietary cholesterol, they can still be included in a heart-healthy diet. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about eggs:
How many eggs can I eat in a day?
Evidence shows that consuming one egg per day is fine for most healthy people and does not result in significant changes in serum lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It you have cholesterol issues, consult a dietitian or your physician about this.
How much cholesterol does one egg have?
Recent studies show that eggs have less cholesterol than ever before. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently reviewed egg nutrient data. Results showed that the average amount of cholesterol in a grade A large egg is 185 milligrams (mg), 14% lower than the amount previously recorded. One possible cause for the decrease in cholesterol level is improvement in the feed given to hens.
What is the difference between AA and A grade eggs?
According to the North Carolina Egg Association, in the grading process eggs are examined for both interior and exterior quality and are sorted according to weight (size). Grade quality and size are not related to one another. In descending order of quality, grades are AA, A and B. There is no difference in nutritive value between the different grades.
When I’m making a recipe or baked goods, what is the default-sized egg I should use? Most recipes are written for a standard large egg.
Is there any difference between eggs with different shell colors?
The breed of hen determines the color of the eggshell. Breeds with white feathers and earlobes lay white-shelled eggs, and breeds with reddish-brown feathers and earlobes lay brown-shelled eggs. The difference between brown- and white-shelled eggs is barely skin deep; the pigment layer of the shell is so thin, it can easily be removed by rubbing with sandpaper or abrasives. There is no nutritional difference between eggs due to their color.
What is the difference between certified organic and regularly produced eggs?
“In October 2002 the National Organic Standard Board set national guidelines that must be met by producers wishing to market organic eggs,” explains Marcia D. Greenblum, MS, RD, senior director of nutrition education at the Egg Nutrition Center. “Organic eggs are produced by hens given feed grown without most conventional pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers. The use of growth hormones is also prohibited; all eggs are hormone free, whether or not they are labeled as such.”