The benefits of eggs for our health are many and varied. Eggs have always been prized as a nutritious food in many cultures and most cuisines have important dishes that include eggs as a leading role.
The humble egg is a wonderful storehouse of nutrients – being rich in vitamins, minerals and protein. We have our own free range happy hens so we get delicious eggs- including this supersized egg my son collected recently (pictured right) that weighed in at a whopping 98g! Eggs have a complete protein profile and as such are often used as benchmark for measuring up the protein content of other foods. Eggs also contain good amounts of healthy fats and if they have been raised on pasture (free range) they will even contain omega 3 fats.
It is only in recent decades that the benefits of eggs were questioned and egg consumption was frowned upon after receiving some bad press in the 1970’s and 80’s when cholesterol was unfairly targeted in public health campaigns. The cholesterol hypothesis of heart disease has been increasingly been challenged over recent years and progressive researchers are now focussed on oxidative stress and inflammation as the real culprit in heart disease. See Chris Masterjohn’s important website Cholesterol & Health for more interesting insights and Chris Kresser’s argument against research linked to TMAO and eggs.
But any discussion on the benefits of eggs, is bound to bring up the cholesterol question – so let’s look at it in more detail. Egg yolks do contain cholesterol, but they also contain other nutrients such as choline that help to metabolise cholesterol. In any case, cholesterol is an important nutrient being part of every cell in the body and an important precursor for a range of hormones and vitamin D. Approximately 80% of your cholesterol in your body is actually made by your liver (that is how important it is!) with dietary intakes only accounting for around 20% of your supply. You can safely eat eggs every day, unless of course you have an allergy or intolerance to eggs. Some people are allergic to eggs, and it is normally the protein rich white of the egg that is the problem.
Another reason it is important to source your eggs from free range hens is that the eggs will be rich in vitamin D. Like our need for sunlight on our skin to make vitamin D, hens also need to be exposed to sunlight on their feathers to make this essential nutrient. Chickens raised in factories are so removed from nature and they do not get to eat grass or be in sunshine, making their eggs a far cry from the real thing! I always love watching my hens lie down and spread their wings to capture the sun after it has been wet and cloudy for a few days.
Eggs are so versatile in cooking and you can increase the protein and nutrient content of many meals by including eggs. You can use them in sweet or savoury dishes alike. Always use low – medium temperature when cooking eggs to protect the delicate fats and nutrients. My favourite way to eat them is for breakfast – where I combine them with vegetables for a scrambled omelette – something I call a scramlette.
Click here to download my favourite breakfast recipe.