Eggs are a staple ingredient in many recipes and play an important role in the diet for many of us. Going back many years there were concerns about the amount of calories in eggs, high cholesterol levels and links to salmonella poisoning but over the last ten years research suggests eggs have many benefits for our health and well being.
How do you like your eggs? Soft boiled, hard boiled, scrambled, poached, sunny side up? There are an endless amount of answers to this question, and the versatility of the egg is one of the reasons it plays a key role in Britain’s kitchens today as much as ever. An important ingredient in baking, as well as cooking, eggs have brightened up breakfasts and produced quick and easy meals from ‘almost bare cupboards’ for centuries – just take the pancake or the omelette for instance.
Cholesterol is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when we think about the constitution of eggs, and yes it is true that eggs contain cholesterol (high levels of cholesterol in the blood raise the risk of heart disease) but eating eggs as part of a balanced diet should not effect your health. If for medical reasons you need to monitor your cholesterol level, it is in fact the amount of saturated fat (found in foods such as butter, cakes and fatty meats) you consume, that you should be watching rather than the amount of eggs you eat.
Vitamins and Minerals
In fact, there is more to this simple food than we may think. Eggs contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B2 and iodine, which protect the eyes and help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. These nutrients also lower the risk of heart disease and strokes. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin with many health benefits linked to healthy bones, cancer prevention and reducing mental health issues. Considered a superfood by some experts, eggs should defiantly be considered an important food as part of a balanced diet.
Take a look at most healthy recipes or nutrition books and you’ll find eggs feature highly. Low in calories, but still satisfyingly filling, eggs can help aid weight loss. The idea of athletes and sports people eating a lot of eggs in their diet is down to the protein they contain. Eggs are rich in good, natural proteins, with the egg white containing the most. Protein helps to repair cells, regulate metabolism and boost energy, which is essential for athletes but just as important for everyone else. They are crucial for children and young people’s growth and repair, and for the older generation to protect them from health problems. The protein digestibility and amino acid score of eggs rank them well against other, often more expensive, protein sources such as meat.
If you are reading up on the benefits of eggs, you may well see choline mentioned, a little-known nutrient. It is an important nutrient for building cell membranes among other things, and eggs are one of the best sources of choline.
It is not unusual to see eggs being used for alternative and natural beauty therapies. Raw egg can be used to condition the hair (try an egg, olive oil and honey mix for a deep, leave-in conditioner) and eating cooked eggs is said to promote a healthy scalp. Or how about an egg-based facemask? Egg whites are said to cleanse and exfoliate the skin, while egg yolk can mosturise and soothe the skin.
And for some slightly more unexpected ideas, next time you cook a boiled egg save the water for your plants. Egg shells contain a high amount of calcium, so they are great for giving your house plants a little extra boost. And as mentioned, eggs are good for cleaning the skin, but they can also help you clean your leather shoes, and make a great non-toxic solution for helping to clean the pots and pans in your kitchen!
Eggs are a well-loved family favourite in many households and we can see why. The delicious, versatile and good-for-you egg has a wide range of benefits and produces some of the nation’s favourite dishes.