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The American Egg Board launched “the incredible, edible egg” as its marketing slogan in 1976, and then five years ago it aired a new version in radio, TV and social media. Long maligned as a contributing cause of high cholesterol and heart disease, the egg actually is an incredible source of nutrition.
With no sugar and no carbs, the lowly chicken egg is an inexpensive source of high quality protein.
In addition to six grams of protein, an egg contains vitamin A, which is needed for the healthy cellular development; vitamin B12, which is important in the formation of red blood cells; all nine essential amino acids; and choline, which helps the body’s nerve, muscle and liver function. No wonder many nutritionists describe eggs as nature’s large vitamin pills.
Eating eggs boosts:
- Brain function.
- Bone development.
- Immune function.
Scientists also believe that pregnant mothers can boost the brain development of their babies by eating eggs.
Long-term studies have shown that the effect of regular egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels is minimal. Some studies also suggest that egg consumption actually may boost the amount of “good” cholesterol in healthy individuals and even help prevent some types of strokes.
According to the USDA, one large egg has about 186 mg of cholesterol — the entire amount of which is found in the egg yolk. If you are diabetic or have high cholesterol, you may want to eat only the egg whites. The white part of a large egg contains about 60 percent of the egg’s total protein content.
Healthy individuals, however, will benefit from the nutrition-dense egg yolk. The yolk contains fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A. E, and D, choline and the carotenoids lutein/zeaxanthin.
The high-quality protein in an egg is important for building and maintaining lean body mass. It can reduce hunger, and, as a result, help in weight loss programs.
According to authors Karen Cicero and Colleen Pierre in their book The Giant Book of Kitchen Cures, athletes in heavy training can benefit from eating hard-boiled eggs. Research indicates the choline level in the blood can drop by as much as 450 percent after heavy exercise. The choline in eggs is a natural way of boosting blood choline levels.
The choline content in eggs also is beneficial to older adults in boosting memory retention. Cicero and Pierre call eggs “single serving packages stuffed with easy-to-digest protein for maintaining muscle and building immunity against pneumonia and flu.”
Need more convincing about the benefits of eating eggs? Here are some other interesting facts:
1. Brown or white?
An egg’s shell color indicates the breed of the hen that laid it, and not its quality or nutritional value. White-feathered hens usually lay white eggs and hens with red feathered hens usually lay brown eggs.
2. Yolk color
Have you been tempted to throw away an egg with a yolk color different from what you are used to? Egg yolk color is determined by the hen’s diet and has nothing to do with nutritional value. A dark yellow yolk indicates a hen that ate green vegetables. A medium-yellow yolk reveals a diet of alfalfa and corn. A hen that lays an egg with a pale yellow yolk probably eats wheat and barley.
3. Shelf life
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Store-bought egg packages have a “sell by” date rather than an expiration date. Eggs usually are edible for up to four weeks after the “sell by” date. To gauge freshness, crack open an egg. If there is no unpleasant odor, it is OK to eat.
4. Label terms
- Free-range hens have roamed outdoors at some point, but there is no regulation on how long they have been outside.
- Cage-free eggs usually are from hens that roam a barn or warehouse. Actual living conditions can vary widely.
- Certified organic eggs are from hens that have some outdoor access and that eat an organic vegetarian diet free of pesticides, animal by-products, or GMOs.
- The USDA grades eggs as AA, A or B based on quality and appearance, not size or color. Grade AA eggs are nearly perfect with clean, uncracked shells, thick, firm whites and defect-free yolks. Grade A eggs are similar with slightly lower interior egg quality. Grade B eggs, which are not sold in supermarkets, may have slight stains and be irregular size or shape.
5. Refrigerate or not?
The USDA requires that eggs sold commercially in the U.S. must be power-washed. The washed eggs lose a natural membrane and therefore must be refrigerated. Eggs sold in much of the rest of the world are not power washed and thus, they retain a natural membrane that allows them to be stored at room temperature.
The average American eats 250 eggs per year, which adds up to a total consumption of 76.5 billion eggs. With their high nutritional value and their versatility as main courses, in salads and sandwiches and in myriads of recipes, eggs truly are incredible.
Cicero, Karen. Giant book of kitchen counter cures. Jerry Baker publisher, 2001. Print.
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