Eggs are one of the best deals you can find at your local supermarket: cheap, packed with nutrients, and simple to prepare. Plus, their versatility can’t be beat. From sauces to soups or casseroles to desserts, eggs can work for any meal, at any time of day. It’s easy to see why so many cultures call eggs a staple of their diets!
They’re incredible, they’re edible, and today, we are going to learn why they are the perfect addition to your diet. Read on for nutrition info, food safety tips, and recipes in honor of the glorious egg!
Nutrition: The Anatomy of an Egg
Eggs are nutrient powerhouses, serving as egg-cellent sources of Choline, protein, and Vitamin D. In addition those essential nutrients, each tiny egg contains a host of other important components. Let’s crack open an egg and see what’s inside.
Choline- Helps maintain normal cell function, liver metabolism and nutrient transportation. In developing fetuses, choline promotes brain and memory health. Choline deficiency may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia later in life.
Lutein- Helps maintain the eye health in the retina. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and found in the yolk of the egg. This type of carotenoid is also found in leafy greens like spinach and kale. Research has shown that consuming at least 6 mg of Lutein (about the equivalent of 1 cup of raw spinach or 2 large eggs) a day reduces risk of macular degeneration and cataracts by 43%.
Biotin- Associated with carbohydrate and fat digestion. One large egg provides approximately 33% of the Adequate Intake (AI) for biotin. While often marketed as a supplement for improving hair, skin and nail health, there is not sufficient research to support these results. On the other hand, biotin deficiency may result in rash, eye infections, hair loss, loss of appetite and depression.
Protein- A large egg provides 7 g of protein, which is approximately 13% of the recommended daily intake (RDA) for protein in a 150 lb person. A balanced breakfast of 2 eggs (14 g), a glass of skim milk or 6 oz. of low-fat yogurt (8g), a piece of whole wheat toast (2g) and piece of fruit (0g) would provide nearly half of the protein needed in a day!
Vitamin D- Maintains immunity, builds strong bones, strengthens nerve function, and reduces inflammation. Also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D can be produced in the skin when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. One large egg has 40 IU or 10% of the RDA for Vitamin D. Other food sources high in Vitamin D include dairy products, mushrooms, fortified orange juice and fatty fish such as tuna or salmon.
Cholesterol- Eggs sometimes get a bad rap because of their cholesterol content (roughly 184 mg/per large egg.) You may be surprised to know that your body requires some cholesterol to sustain normal cell functioning, produce hormones like testosterone and estrogen, and aid in fat digestion. That said, our liver already produces the amount of cholesterol we need in a day. To avoid negative effects of cholesterol from eggs, limit egg consumption to 7 eggs a week, and no more than one at one sitting if you are diabetic, or you have high cholesterol or heart disease.
Food Safety Concerns
While many people associate eggs with horror stories of food-borne illness, you can avoid almost all problems by following a few solid rules. Eggs are safe to eat up to one month (30 days) past the date printed on the carton. The FDA mandates that eggs be removed from store shelves on or after the date printed on the carton, but only because of how the FDA defines “fresh” eggs for sale.
Uncooked Eggs– Whole, uncooked eggs should be kept safely in the refrigerator for up to 30 days past the date printed on the carton at purchase.
Cooked Eggs- Boiled eggs can be kept safely in the refrigerator for up to one week. Casseroles, quiches, and other cooked eggs should reach a temperature of 160⁰F for safe consumption.
**If the eggs aren’t kept at 40⁰F or below or there is a noticeable off odor, color or taste discard immediately**
Easy Snack and Meal Ideas
Ready to give eggs a try? Read on for three different ways to easily incorporate eggs into your day!
The Perfect Boiled Egg
Enjoy as a snack, add to salads or whip yolk with non-fat plain yogurt or low fat mayo to make deviled.
Use eggs that are 7-10 days from purchase so they are easier to peel.
1. Using hot water, instead of boiling, to cook the eggs and immediately submerging the eggs in cold water prevents the yolks from turning green
2. Place eggs in a pan so they are a single layer. Fill with cold water until eggs are covered 1 inch.
3. Turn stove on to high and heat until boiling. Immediately remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 12 minutes (large eggs.)
4. Drain pan and serve hot. If to be eaten later, submerge in a shallow bowl of cold water and ice for several minutes before refrigerating. Boiled eggs can be kept safely in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Egg in a Biscuit
Makes: 4 Servings
2 T Chives
4 Eggs, soft-boiled
1 cup, whole wheat flour
1 T sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 T butter, unsalted
½ cup reduced-fat cheddar, shredded
2/3 cup yogurt, plain
1. Preheat oven 475. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Cut butter evenly until small crumbs form. Add cheese and combine. Stir in chives.
3. Whisk in yogurt and stir until just combined. Place on greased cookie sheet and top each one with an egg standing upright. Cover each egg with the remaining batter and place the pan into the pre-heated oven.
4. Bake for 5 minutes, turn oven to 400 and bake for another 7-10 minutes until biscuits are slightly brown. Serve warm.
Egg-cellent Brunch Idea
Check out my blog post from last year for a delicious breakfast recipe that can be made ahead and frozen for busy weekday mornings!
Johanna M. Seddon et al, 1994, Journal of American Medical Association 272:1413-20.