Superfoods are all the rage these days. The magic berry from one particular shaman’s yard or the meat of a fish living only in the north of Sweden are all over the market. But instead of looking for mysterious superfoods in the depth of the Amazon jungle, try focusing more on the basics. When I say basics I mean staple foods that have been taken for granted. So, to everyone’s surprise, I present to you a proven superfood – eggs.
Chicken eggs are one of the most versatile food items available across the globe. They are a staple of the North American diet and more precise, the main ingredient in the quintessential breakfast plate of Americans. Almost all eggs are edible, but those from chicken are the variety of choice worldwide.
Eggs come in a brown or white colored shell and a variety of sizes. Their size is based on minimum weight per dozen: Jumbo (30 oz./dozen), extra large (27 oz), large (24 oz.), medium (21 oz.), small (18 oz.) and peewee (15 oz.). Another classification is by quality, graded according to the USDA as AA, A, and B.
Eggs should be stored in a refrigerator and can last up to several weeks. Be aware that they can absorb odors from the fridge so they should be kept in a closed container. If an egg is cracked, the egg white will last for up to 4 days outside of the shell, in a fridge. The yolk lasts a lot shorter, 2 days at most. A hard cooked egg is safe for consumption for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Nutritional values of eggs
Eggs consist of albumin, which is the white part made up of water, protein and minerals and yellow yolk, mostly made up of fat, vitamin and minerals. Eggs are a real powerhouse of nutrition, packed with nutrients of all types.
One large, raw egg contains around 72 calories. Macronutrient wise, it contains 6.4 grams of protein, 4.8 grams of fat, 0.4 grams of carbs and 0.2 grams of sugar. All the essential amino acids are present in an egg. From a micronutrient standpoint, it is rich with vitamins A, E, D, B2, B5 and B12. The average egg also has high amounts of iron, folate, phosphorus and selenium.
Eggs are also rich in choline, which is an incredibly important vitamin like substance. Choline is used to build the membranes of cells in the body as well as brain signaling molecules. A single egg contains more than 100 mg of this crucial nutrient.
An egg is also packed with antioxidants, in the form of lutein and zeaxanthin. These two compounds have a role to play in the physiology of our eyes. They build up in the retina and protect it from degenerative changes and cataracts. These antioxidants are mostly located in the egg yolk.
The myth of the Big Bad Cholesterol
For a long time eggs were considered to be the villain behind high blood cholesterol. To be fair, the thinking behind the notion does have some logic to it. Eggs do contain high amounts of dietary cholesterol, around 212 mg per egg, to be exact. When you take into consideration that the daily intake is set around 300 mg, you get the idea why eggs seem like the devil’s spawn. Or they used to.
What’s missing from this condemnation is the crucial fact that dietary cholesterol does not influence the levels of blood cholesterol. The human body has its own cholesterol factory in the form of the liver. In an amazing natural equating process, in a case of increased dietary cholesterol, the liver just limits its own production. Voila, balance has been restored.
The only rise in cholesterol associated with the consumption of eggs is that of HDL. Standing for High Density Lipoprotein, HDL is also known as “the good cholesterol”. This is the cholesterol that we want to raise and an omelet a day can help us achieve that. Its a win-win situation.
But that’s not all. Eggs actually influence LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) or “the bad cholesterol” as well. High levels of LDL are linked with an increased risk of heart disease. Eggs actually influence the size of the LDL particles, converting them from small and dense to large ones.
Let’s get one thing clear, if it hasn’t become clear already. Eggs are not the culprit behind heart disease. Science has shown that eggs actually reduce the risk of heart disease and protect the heart. The amount of Omega 3 fatty acids in them protects the cardiovascular systems and helps lower triglycerides as well.
The Vitamin D found in eggs helps to protect the bones against osteoporosis and rickets. The egg protein provides muscles with the necessary building blocks while slowing down their degradation.
The abundance of vitamins and minerals found within eggs positively impacts many aspects of health. It helps maintain a healthful pregnancy, it improves eyesight, it lowers the risk of heart disease and boosts the immune system.
As the quintessential breakfast food, eggs offer a much healthier variety to sugar filled cereals. The variety of nutrients allows for an extended feeling of satiety, contributing to weight loss and development of good eating habits.
Recipe – Perfect Poached Eggs On Guacamole Covered Toast
Let’s wrap things up with an easy and tasty recipe with an egg as its centerpiece. This dish is great both as a breakfast option or a post workout meal. You might even have it at dinner time.
2 free range eggs,
2 pieces of whole grain toast,
3-4 black olives,
1/2 of a large avocado,
2 cloves of garlic,
2 cherry tomatoes
1 chili pepper
Salt and pepper
Put a pot large enough for two eggs on the stove and fill 3/4 of it with water. Let the water get close to boiling, but do not let it boil completely. Use a spatula to create a small vortex in the middle of the pot. One by one, break the eggs, adding them into the pot. The sweet spot for poaching is around five minutes, so that the eggs are thoroughly cooked but the yolks are still runny.
Scoop the avocado into a bowl and mash it up with a fork. Add in the crushed garlic cloves, de-pitted and diced olives and diced cherry tomatoes. Mix everything up well and season with salt and pepper.
Toast the bread and spread the avocado mixture on top of both pieces. Sprinkle as much chili pepper slices as you’re comfortable with and grate some cheese over. Place the poached eggs on top of everything. The heat from the eggs will melt the cheese creating a beautiful layer. Enjoy!