This may come as no surprise, but eggs are hugely popular. Last year, America consumed a whopping 95 billion of them, working out an at average of 289 per person. Be it for breakfast, lunch, incorporated into dinner, or just as a snack, it’s one of the most common food products in the country. But are they actually good for us?
A few years ago, eggs were considered to lie on the wrong side of healthy. “High in cholesterol!” said nutritionists and doctors, who prescribed only occasional indulgence, and even then advised that you might want to skip the yolk (the alleged culprit). Remember egg white omelettes? Yuck.
But in the early 2000s it was discovered that cholesterol was not the sole cause of high blood cholesterol – saturated fat played a far more prominent role. So it was that the guidelines of the American Heart Association were revised, allowing for one egg a day for adults (while also being more specific with regards to daily cholesterol limits).
Now we can enjoy them guilt free for what they are – one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. Eggs are a great source of protein; in fact, along with milk, they contain the highest biological value for it. One standard size egg contains only 75 calories yet packs in 7 grams of high quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat. There’s also plenty of iron, minerals, vitamins, and carotenoids, an important antioxidant.
Eggs are also rich in omega-3 fat – essentially for lowering blood pressure and a healthy heart – and contain 22% of your RDI of selenium, another powerful antioxidant that boost the immune system. In fact, they have such a wide range of nutrients, and very little of anything now considered unhealthy, that many consider them to be something of a superfood.
Even the yolk – formerly castigated as the source of all that cholesterol – is packed with a specific set of powerful antioxidants that are beneficial, particularly for older people. Both lutein and zeaxanthin counteract some of the degenerative processes that can affect our eyes, and have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, two common eye disorders. Eggs are also high in vitamin A, a deficiency of which is the most common cause of blindness in the world.
Of course, not all eggs are equal, and to get the most significant health benefits from them, it pays to choose wisely. Obviously, organic is best, but with eggs, it’s not quite a simple as that. Look out for free-range/free-roaming, or for the gold standard in happy, healthy chickens, you want AWA – Animal Welfare Approved. And the healthiest way to cook them? Just plain boiled.