Have you ever found yourself Googling such egg-related queries as “How much cholesterol is in an egg?”, “Are egg yolks healthy?” or “Are brown eggs worth the price?”
If so, your confusion and uncertainty are understandable. Over the decades, eggs have been alternately demonised, praised, and demonised again in food and nutrition circles. While they’ve been a dietary staple for as long as humans have existed, questions about them and their nutritional content persist.
On the eve of this World Egg Day – October 12, in case it’s not pencilled in your calendar – let’s stoke the yolk debate one more time and revisit what the research has to say on these hard-boiled questions.
How nutritious are eggs, really?
Eggs have been an ever-present part of our diet throughout human history, and it’s unlikely they’ll be vacating their prominent spot anytime soon. Indeed, eggs have played a major role in feeding families across the globe because of their widespread availability and low cost compared to other foods. It helps that eggs don’t fight back when humans are hunting and gathering them!
But it’s more than a relationship of convenience. Eggs are also an exceptionally powerful nutritional source – and one of our top eight superfoods here at Love Wholesome.
They contain disease-fighting nutrients like Vitamin A, folate, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B6, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more. The protein in an egg, a whopping six grams, is some of the highest quality found in nature, and it can help sustain physical and mental energy while supporting brain and muscle development. With no sugar or carbohydrates, five grams of healthy fats, and only 70 calories, the egg packs quite the nutritional punch in that tiny, round package.
Cholesterol: Public egg-nemy number one?
One large egg contains about two-thirds of the recommended daily value of cholesterol, making eggs (particularly the egg yolk) the most concentrated source of dietary cholesterol. Given the association of blood cholesterol with heart disease, from the 1970s nutritionists began to frown on eggs and other high-cholesterol foods.
However, decades of further research have cracked this theory wide open. Scientists have found that cholesterol in food has a significantly smaller effect on blood cholesterol than saturated fats, which trigger the body to produce blood cholesterol. In 2000 the American Heart Association even revised its dietary guidelines, freeing eggs of their cholesterol stigma.
But even as these myths were being fried, an industry developed around villainising egg yolks (cue the egg white omelette craze and suspicious “egg substitute” concoctions on grocery store shelves).
In fact, the yolk of the egg is where most of the egg’s nutrition resides. A typical yolk contains 250 milligrams of choline, which is a nutrient essential for memory, brain development, liver function, and transporting nutrients throughout the body.
Eggs have been coming back on nutritionists’ radar in recent years, supported by dozens of studies confirming what some of us have always suspected: With all the key ingredients for life, the egg just might be one of nature’s greatest gifts to our diet, particularly for young kids.
What types of eggs are there, and what’s the difference?
While chicken eggs may be the most commonly consumed, eggs from ostriches, ducks, quails and other mammals are popular in various parts of the world.
As for the grade, type, and other add-ons, the variety can be dizzying. This helpful guide from the New York Times can answer all your questions about the labels you’ll find on a common carton.
Is buying eggs good for animals and the environment?
For the green-minded among us, you might want to choose the source of your eggs carefully. Chicken eggs from conventional cage systems may be the cheapest and most conveniently available at a supermarket near you, but increasingly these industrial processes are losing popularity as people consider the chicken suffering that often accompanies them.
In recent years, “free-range” and “organic” have become trendy labels for more ethical consumption, but switching from traditional cage processing to these options has actually been shown to increase energy use by 15 percent (sorry, carbon footprint). If you’re a diehard egg-lover, best to weigh your options!
To really savour World Egg Day, why not try one of our favourite egg recipes from around the web?
Let’s get cracking!