To Eat or Not to Eat: Eggs

2008_03_26-EggFreshness

Although they’re fairly easy to crack, eggs are a complicated topic to digest because of their diverse contents. Their complex nature, however, also makes eggs a versatile food that I eat frequently. Most people I know eat eggs at least twice a week, so the question stands: should we eat so many eggs?

Pros:

  • Eggs are a low-fat, low-calorie and low-cost source of high-quality protein. They also contain other key nutrients including choline, riboflavin, foliate, vitamin B12, selenium, tryptophan and even lutein.[1][2][3]
  • If you’re concerned about the way that hens are treated or want to support sustainable farming practices, locally sourced cage-free eggs are sold in most communities.

Cons:

  • The yolk of one large egg contains 210 mg of cholesterol, which is a lot.[4] But a doctor representing the Mayo Clinic has suggested that studies indicate that eating four egg yolks or fewer on a weekly basis hasn’t been proven to increase your risk of heart disease (which can be triggered by high cholesterol).[5]
  • Although eggs are not a common allergen for adults, an article in a pediatric journal suggests that they may be one of the most prevalent allergies among young children. The article suppositions that reactions to egg whites are more common than yolks.  However I haven’t found further literature on this subject, especially with regards to the prevalence of an egg intolerance or allergy among adults. This is particularly interesting to me because my friend recently figured out that her body reacts adversely to eggs. Please post in the comments if you have a similar story, or know of any other literature about eggs as irritants!
  • Many athletes put raw eggs into post-workout shakes, which makes the eggs easier to consume in higher quantities. But raw eggs can carry risks of bacteria like salmonella. Furthermore, your body harnesses more protein from cooked eggs than raw eggs, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.[6]

After all of this research, I will stick to my current diet of no more than half a cup of egg whites each day plus two to six whole eggs a week, which I generally cook thoroughly. I’ve also discovered that it’s been officially proven that the egg came first, not the chicken.

 

 

Additional FAQ I found fascinating:

  • When shopping in the grocery store, have you ever noticed the letter egg grade on the carton?  It’s generally AA or A, through grade B eggs are also occasionally sold at retail. I always thought it had to do with their size, but that’s exclusively the weight class category, which includes Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small or Peewee. Grades are given to eggs based on their appearance. Grade B eggs, for example, may have thinner egg whites or slight stains on the shells. So next time you are deciding between AA, A or B, consider that they don’t reflect much on how well the eggs will taste or anything.
  • You’re not supposed to wash eggs because the wash water can be absorbed into the porous eggshell and contaminate the egg white.
  • Good egg or bad egg? A spoiled egg will smell bad, whether or not it is cooked.

The USDA publicizes many of these facts and more: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Focus_On_Shell_Eggs/index.asp#0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *