It’s that time of year when our minds turn to eggs, but not the healthy kind – the sweet chocolatey Easter kind. Well as much as we may enjoy them, they won’t be as good for us as the other kind that are laid by chickens (or ducks, geese and even ostrich!).
Eggs are a great food to include in your diet, especially if your personal trainer has advised you to try to lose weight whilst ensuring your body gets all the essential nutrition it needs. Because eggs are nutritionally dense and contain around 70 calories (medium-sized) they can be part of any calorie-controlled meals and snacks whilst still providing lots of protein and vital vitamins, minerals and fats. Both the white and yolk of an egg are rich in nutrients – proteins, vitamins and minerals with the yolk also containing cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids, although most of the calories come from the yolk. Although protein can be found in both the egg white and the yolk, the yolk actually has a higher concentration of protein than the white – but as there is more white in the egg, this means the white provides more protein overall.
Egg protein is a rich source of the essential amino acid leucine, which is important in modulating the use of glucose by skeletal muscle and in facilitating muscle recovery after exercise. It has therefore been suggested that this would be advantageous to people undergoing endurance training. Also it is possible that an adequate intake of high quality protein from sources such as eggs could help to prevent the degeneration of skeletal muscle in older people. When assessed against a range of different measures of protein quality, eggs rank consistently high, even against other high quality sources of protein such as beef and cows’ milk.
Eggs are rich in several nutrients that promote heart health such as betaine and choline. They also contain more Vitamin D than they did 10 years ago, which helps to protect bones, preventing osteoporosis and rickets. All B vitamins are found in eggs, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, choline, biotin, and folic acid. Choline is a standout among these B vitamins.
For years eggs were considered more of a health risk than a healthy food due to their cholesterol level, it was recommended that people with high cholesterol levels avoid eggs. British research has shown that a medium egg contains about 100mg of cholesterol, a third of the 300mg recommended daily limit. Also it is saturated fat in the diet, not dietary cholesterol that influences blood cholesterol levels the most.
The preparation of your eggs will affect their nutritional value, if you fry an egg in fat, instead of boiling it, this will increase the number of overall calories. It is also important to eat your eggs along with other nutrient-rich foods, such as vegetables, salads and whole grains.
When buying eggs remember that organic by itself does not guarantee a natural lifestyle for the egg-laying chickens but organic standards help lower risk of contaminated feed and organic eggs usually have higher nutrient quality.
So whatever eggs you are eating to celebrate Easter this weekend, whether the chocolate or the healthy kind, ENJOY and Happy Easter.