Eggs: Dietary Friend or Foe?
Nutritionists are taking a fresh look at the health benefits of eggs.
People who eat eggs have been shown to have better diets, perhaps -- scientists speculate -- because they tend to eat breakfast, especially eggy ones. "Eggs have both fat and protein," Kendall adds. "These increase a sense of fullness."
Of course, questions have also been raised about food-borne illnesses involving eggs. One out of 20,000 eggs may be contaminated with salmonella, bacteria that can cause extreme intestinal distress. The secret to avoiding this is to cook eggs thoroughly, Kendall says. Eggs should also be stored appropriately in the refrigerator and promptly eaten after cooking.
"It's better not to have the yolk runny," Kava agrees. "The extreme elderly and immunosuppressed should be extra careful or not eat eggs."
Kendall says you can even get eggs that are pasteurized to kill bacteria inside the shells. To avoid hard cooking, the heat levels are kept low, but are still effective.
Benefits of Eggs
Pluses outweigh minuses:
- Eggs are easy to prepare in a number of different ways. They even make recipes work by thickening things.
- They have a long refrigerator shelf life.
- They are relatively cheap.
- They are delicious!
"An egg is no longer just an egg," Kendall says.
Go to any upscale food store or even the local supermarket and you have choices, and not just the sizes.
- "You have your cage-free, free-range, or free-roaming," Kendall notes. This refers to the way the chickens (yes, they come first) are raised. "People got the idea that letting chickens wander around and eat the occasional bug was more humane, and because the birds were exposed to less ammonia, made the eggs taste better." Gourmets, in fact, rhapsodize over the depth of flavor of free-range eggs. On one web site, an egg lover remarked: "My neighbor's chickens are feasting on grasshoppers and I always look forward to the eggs he brings. They are huge with bright golden yolks that stand high above thick whites."
- Lower-cholesterol eggs are produced, Kendall says, by feeding the chickens a vegetarian diet and oils such as canola oil. "A large egg can have 300 milligrams of cholesterol," she notes, "and this sort of feeding can bring that down to 200 milligrams."
Omega-3 eggs are also being engineered. Chickens are fed flaxseed, marine algae, and fish oil, with the intent to increase the egg content of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Brown eggs, beige, even gray or lavender, are trendy now. This is not a dye job, but a function of the type of chicken, Kendall explains. White-shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes. Brown-shelled eggs come from chickens with red feathers and red ear lobes. Do different colored eggs taste better? The answer lies in the mouth of the omelet eater.
- Those eggs in a carton, already broken and mixed, are another category on the shelves. Sometimes, Kendall says, these are considered low cholesterol because they are all whites with a little yellow coloring thrown in. Read the labels, nutritionists advise.