Shell shocked

By: Eygene Sims

Poor old eggs get a hard time in the press and media for allegedly doing all kinds of terrible things for our health, from raising cholesterol to over-acidifying our bodies. While these anti-egg claims have some truth, they have definitely been exaggerated and the bias exhibited by some viewpoints seems rather “eggist” to say the least! While it is tempting to run away with a multitude of egg puns, I will refrain and try to keep to the point. Furthermore, they can sound like Dad jokes.

I would like to clarify a few things about eggs as they are potentially a fantastic food source full of valuable nutritional benefit. What is in the humble egg? The following vitamins and minerals can be found in eggs: choline, selenium, biotin, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, molybdenum, iodine, iron and copper. Additionally, they are a good source of vitamin B5, protein (6 grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids), phosphorus, vitamin D and vitamin A.  They are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

However, while these nutrients can be found in eggs, there are a few important things to consider:

•     New Zealand soils are low in selenium and iodine, so unless our chooks are
    fed these nutrients then it is unlikely that they will have much of these in your
    dippy egg.

•     Vitamin A will probably only be found in true free ranging birds that eat
    grubs and worms.

•     Mass-farmed eggs tend to be less nutrient dense, and they may have other
    chemicals due to the need to medicate to prevent disease in crowded farms.

•     The protein will be damaged during cooking if it is heated too quickly (e.g.
    French omelette, microwaved, scrambled, fried etc). The best way to cook
    them is soft boiling, hard boiling or poaching.

•     The lecithin in an egg helps your body to break down cholesterol, but cooking
    at high temperatures (as above) damages the lecithin and reduces this benefit.

•     Eggs can contain salmonella. About 1 in 20,000 eggs may have it.

Numerous studies have shown that lecithin taken daily reduces LDL cholesterol levels, raises good cholesterol, and prevents atherosclerosis. In addition, studies on eggs have shown that eating larger amounts of eggs (an average of seven per week), does not raise serum cholesterol levels or worsen cardiovascular health. The most recent research suggests that serum cholesterol is more affected by over consumption of saturated fats and trans fats, found in meats and processed foods, rather than by the amount of cholesterol in the diet.

So my take on eggs is to find the best source that you can – from someone you know who takes good care of their birds and lets them roam appropriately. Gently cook them as a great source of protein and nutrition. For something different, have soft boiled eggs but use steamed asparagus (or broccoli florets) instead of toast soldiers to dip!

by Eugene Sims
wnt.co.nz

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