Descrambling the evil egg myths
Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD
Crack open a six-pack-of eggs! For years it was assumed that those scrambled eggs were a sure-fire ticket to the cardiologist. However, contrary to popular belief, an egg a day has little, if any, impact on heart health.
Crack open a six-pack–of eggs! For years it was assumed that those scrambled eggs were a sure-fire ticket to the cardiologist. However, contrary to popular belief, an egg a day has little, if any, impact on heart health.
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found no relationship between egg consumption and heart disease in a population of over 177,000 subjects who were followed for up to 14 years. Although egg yolks contain a lot of cholesterol, evidence points to meat-derived saturated fats and trans fats as the real cholesterol villains. This leaves us to ponder: Do we really need to suffer through any more tasteless egg-white omelettes? The answer is No!
The Whole-Egg Deal
Now that they’re off most nutritionists’ hit lists, eggs (and yes, we mean the whole egg) are being acknowledged for their outstanding nutritional qualities. Nearly all the essential nutrients required by the human body are hiding under that shell. So where better to start when talking about the nutritional virtues of anegg than its protein.
The protein that is found in eggs (most of it in the white) is a very high-quality protein. It contains all the essential amino acids (that must be obtained in the diet) and is second only to whey protein in overall protein quality. In fact, no other whole food has a higher-quality protein, with the exception of breast milk. Thus, egg protein can be very effective in stimulating protein synthesis within the human body, necessary to build lean body mass, cells, and enzymes.
If you’re thinking of throwing out those yolks, consider this: With the exception of riboflavin and niacin, the yolk contains a higher proportion of many of the egg’s vitamins and minerals than the egg white. These include folate, vitamin B12, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, selenium, and calcium. What’s more, all of the egg’s vitamins–A, D, E, and K–are in the yolk.
In an egg’s colourful centre you can also find the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which have been associated with a reduced risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65.
Eggs are also an excellent source of choline, an essential nutrient also found in dark green leafy vegetables. Choline plays a role in brain function (for example, fetal brain development) and memory. A large egg has 215 mg of choline, nearly 50 percent of the recommended intake for men and women according to the National Academy of Sciences.
It’s clear that eggs are a nutritional powerhouse. Be sure to buy only organic, free-range eggs from a local farmer or your natural health food store to optimize the benefits of several nutrients, including vitamin E, beta-carotene, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.