Eggs, the essence of nutrition

Chicken Eggs

Humans have enjoyed and fed eggs since the domestication of chickens.

Both egg whites and egg yolks are rich in nutrients, including protein, vitamins and minerals. Egg yolks contain fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins D and E) and essential fatty acids; while most of the protein is found in egg whites.

One large egg contains 6.5 grams of protein, all 9 essential amino acids, and 14 key nutrients that help maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin and eyes. All for only 80 calories!

A dozen eggs?

Eggs are produced by nature and not processed according to a formula; therefore, their exact nutrient content may differ from egg to egg. In general, however, a one-dozen carton of large eggs will feature a nutritional label that resembles the following.

Nutrition Facts Serving Size: 1 egg (50g)

Calories 70, Fat Cal. 45, Total Fat 5g (7% DV), Sat. Fat 1.5g (8% DV),Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol. 185mg (60% DV), Sodium 70mg (2% DV), Total Carb. 0g (0% DV), Protein 6g (13% DV), Vitamin A (6% DV), Vitamin C (0% DV),Calcium (2% DV), Iron (4% DV). Not a significant source of Dietary Fiber or Sugars. Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

The 1990 Nutrition Education and Labeling Act requires most foods, including eggs, to carry a nutrition label. Current labels express nutrients as a percentage of Daily Values (DVs) for a 2,000-calorie diet, rather than a percentage of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.S. RDAs).

What makes eggs so special?

Whole eggs are nutrient dense and provide almost all the nutrients you need. They are a useful source of some hard-to-find nutrients such as vitamins D and B12 and the mineral iodine.

Eggs are rich in several nutrients that promote heart health, such as betaine and choline. A study of nearly half a million people in China showed that eating eggs daily can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, although experts emphasize that eggs must be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle to be beneficial.

Eggs are one of the best dietary sources of choline. This little-discussed nutrient is needed by all of us for the formation of cell membranes and for brain functions, including memory. This is especially important during pregnancy and lactation, when an adequate supply of choline is essential for normal brain development.

It’s natural for our eyesight to deteriorate with age, but there are some beneficial nutrients found in a balanced diet that can help maintain eye health. Eggs are an example of an eye-friendly food. Egg yolks contain large amounts of carotenoids, which note lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important in preventing macular degeneration and cataracts. Eggs are also a great source of vitamin A, which is the key to good eyesight.

Eggs are high in protein, which is more filling than fat or carbohydrates. As a food choice, eggs score well because they have a high satiety index, a measure of how filling a meal is. In fact, research shows that a breakfast with eggs is more nutritious than an equivalent high-calorie breakfast and can also help reduce calorie intake later in the day.

Mix them up, and cook them well

Let’s say you already know everything about eggs and consume them regularly. Even so, you should know that moderation in your meals is a key for a healthy diet. Don’t forget to divide your plate in 4 pieces. If one piece is eggs (be it boiled, fried or baked), the other 3 quarters must include other food types such as vegetables or whole grains. Balance is essential in your daily habits.

Thanks to their high-quality protein content, eggs will help you build muscle mass during training. However, don’t forget the Yolk. Consuming egg-whites only is not the same since most of the useful stuff is inside the yolk.

We do not recommend consuming eggs raw (like in movies), because they can be a breeding ground for various bacteria, such as salmonella. Tiny cracks on the shell or even incorrect handling can contaminate the inside. Luckily pasteurization process, or otherwise known as cooking, will get rid of this nasty disease. It only takes an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) for the egg to be considered “cooked”. Also, if you notice a cracked egg in the bunch, just throw it away – it’s not worth the risk.

Check out this CDC article for more information on this subject.

How many eggs per day?

Finally, eggs can be consumed for breakfast, lunch or dinner on their own or as addition to some other meal. Just make sure you don’t over do it.

There is a great debate going on if eggs should be consumed every day or if they possess a risk to some people with pre-existing diseases (diabetics for example). However, most experts concur that 1-2 eggs a day with a healthy mix of other food types shouldn’t be a problem for most healthy adults.