Eggs: Exceptionally healthy

Let's crack the egg to explore the world of nutrients. Egg is one of the super-foods perfectly designed for good nutrition

EggsEggs are a delicious source of nutrition. Here are a few reasons why you must include eggs in your regular diet.

  • Help you get stronger. Eggs are a perfect blend of good quality proteins and all essential amino acids. In fact, the protein quality is so good that it is used as a standard to evaluate the quality of other proteins [one egg provides 6.7 gm of protein]. Proteins promote growth, repair and building of muscles and body tissues. Therefore, they are recommended for pregnant women, children and athletes. It also helps boost immunity, speeds up recovery and healing of wounds. It is advisable in conditions such as burns, cancer, AIDS and undernourished children. [Eggs also contain biotin that can prevent birth defects in newborns].
  • Improve your vision. An-egg-a-day might be just the answer to powerful eyesight. This is mainly due to the presence of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoid pigments [vitamin A] in egg yolk. Eggs are great for professionals such as writers, teachers and pilots because of their high dependence on vision. The vitamin A content in eggs also helps lower the risk of developing cataract.
  • Strengthen bones. Eggs are one of the few foods that are rich in vitamin D and help in the development of stronger bones. They are good for conditions like rickets, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
  • Improve brain functions. Eggs are rich in choline that helps in the regulation of the brain and the nervous system. Choline improves the ability to concentrate and retain information in your brain - great for students! Advisable in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
  • Lower risk of heart disease. It helps in protecting blood vessels from damage and prevents the formation of blood clots, hence lowering the risk of developing heart attack and strokes.
  • Contain good fats. Many of us avoid eggs due to its fat content. However, you may be surprised to know that:
    • Egg yolk contains emulsified fats that are easily digestible
    • It is also rich in lecithin that aids in lowering your cholesterol
    • Eggs [intake up to one egg daily] do not have a negative effect on your blood cholesterol levels.
  • hance beauty. The extraordinary supply of proteins, sulphur, biotin and vitamin B12 from eggs promotes hair and nail growth. The sulphur content in eggs can also help in getting a smoother skin. External application of egg on the hair has a natural conditioning effect.
  • Prevent breast cancer. A regular intake of eggs also helps in preventing breast cancer due to its anti-oxidant content [vitamin A, E, Selenium and Zinc].
  • Are a great breakfast option. Due to its unique combination of proteins and fats, it creates a satiety feeling, making it an ideal breakfast choice especially when you are on a weight-loss diet.

Eggitarians delight

Include eggs in your daily diet:

  • Burji [spicy scrambled eggs], hard or soft boiled, scrambled, omelette, French toast, poached, baked
  • Scotched [egg used as a coating], shirred [baked product with a mixture of eggs, butter, cheese, seasoning and cream], devilled eggs [egg yolks cooked in mayonnaise and spooned in boiled egg white halves].
  • Sandwiches, salads, spread, dips
  • Egg kofta curry, egg stuffing in capsicum, egg paratha, egg pakora, pulao, fried rice, au gratin [cooked while covered with browned breadcrumbs] casserole, puffs, frankie, wraps, rolls, egg noodles, cookies.
  • Souffles, custard, cake, egg halwa, floating island.

Caution

Eggs can also be detrimental to health if proper care is not taken.

"Salmonella", a form of bacteria that breeds in the chicken intestine, commonly contaminates the outer shell of the egg. It can lead to severe gastrointestinal infections causing abdominal pain, typhoid, and fever. To prevent it:

  • Use pasteurised packaged eggs
  • Wash the outer covering before use
  • Partially boil the eggs before using them
  • Wash all dishes used in preparing eggs in warm water separately
  • Sanitise all kitchen surfaces that might have come in contact with raw eggs
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw eggs
  • I would definitely discourage the practice of eating raw eggs, mainly for two reasons — one, it can cause infections, and second, raw egg whites contain anti-nutritional substances that can affect vitamin availability in the body
  • ''Egg allergies'' are another group of problems that you might need to be careful about. Albumin [the protein present in egg whites] can be highly allergic to some people. Especially, mother's weaning their infants need to be extra careful. It is advisable to introduce only one spoon of egg yolk initially. You can progress to an entire egg only after a month, and only if your child shows no allergic symptoms with egg yolk
  • If you are worried about your blood cholesterol, try avoiding red meats and reduce your intake of chicken. Consumption of one egg daily is safe. Preferably, consume it boiled or baked rather than fried. In case you are still worried about your blood cholesterol, opt for two egg whites instead of whole egg daily
  • Over boiling eggs can sometimes cause egg yolk discoloration [appears as a bluish grey ring between egg yolk and white]. The colour change is due to a chemical reaction which can be prevented by placing the eggs in cold water immediately after boiling them.

Are the eggs you are eating fresh?

Place the egg in a bowl filled with cold water. If the egg floats, it is stale and if it sinks it's fresh. Floating egg indicates the shrinking of the inner contents of the egg due to accumulation of air. Stale eggs usually tend to have more watery egg whites and the yolk looks duller and flatter.

How to choose an egg

Latest in the market. You might want to look out for vegetarian eggs. These eggs are produced by feeding the chicken a specific vegetarian diet [with flaxseeds, corn, dried fruits]. These eggs are low in cholesterol and high in omega-3-fatty acids that are heart-protective.

Coloured eggs. Don't be surprised by brown or grey coloured eggs. The colour of the shell is usually influenced by the breed of the bird, however they are all edible.

Labelled eggs. Packaged eggs should preferably be labelled according to their size [extra large, large, medium and small]. Sometimes they could also be graded as AA [excellent], A [good] and B [average].

Inspect them. Avoid buying eggs with cracked shells.

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Payal Ahuja
Payal Ahuja is a Mumbai-based dietician and consultant. She conducts workshops on lifestyle management and weight management programmes on TV. Ahuja is also IPC-certified auditor for ISO-9001:2000, and author of the book, Combating Childhood Obesity.