An Egg-celent Source of Protein and More
I can’t help it, but every time I hear someone order an “egg-white omelet”, I cringe a little inside. Ok, it’s really just fine if all you want is the egg-whites, but I do think you’re missing out on not just flavor but some great nutrients, all because eggs have gotten a bad rap.
I think it dates back to the 80s crazes of anti-fat and cholesterol. Eggs, specifically the yolk, contain dietary cholesterol. And yes, quite a bit actually… around 200 milligrams worth, which is about 70% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). But the thing is, they’re finding out that dietary cholesterol doesn’t raise your blood cholesterol levels like many once thought. And while over 60 percent of the calories in a whole egg come from dietary fat (with nearly all the rest from protein), a single large egg is only about 70 calories. That’s not much more than your typical serving of fruit, and the mix of protein and fat will keep you feeling full longer.
And what about the fat? Even a lot of folks who aren’t concerned about the cholesterol seem to avoid at least the egg yolk over fears of the fat they contain. The average large chicken egg does contain about 5 grams of fat – 2 grams of which are saturated, and that fat makes up a bit over 60 percent of the calories in the egg, but nearly all the rest come from an eggs 6-7 grams of protein. But when you do the math, the typical large egg has just 70 calories – that’s not much more than your typical serving of fruit. But by having an egg for breakfast, with it’s mix of fat and protein, you not only give your body some great fuel but it will keep you feeling satisfied much longer than the typical bowl of cereal.
And there are other reasons to keep the yolk, they contain choline and B Vitamins, two nutrients essential in fetal brain, nervous system and spinal cord development. In fact just two whole eggs will get you half the RDI of choline. Iron is another essential nutrient for pregnant and nursing women, and while those two eggs may only have about 10 percent of the RDI of iron, it contains a healthy mix of both sources – heme and non-heme, so those two eggs can help decrease the risk of anemia, something to which pregnant and nursing women women are more susceptible to.
Even if you’re not pregnant, or even a women, eggs are packed with calcium, zinc selenium, Vitamins A, D, E and K (the fat soluble vitamins). Egg yolks also contain the full spectrum of essential amino acids as well the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are thought to promote eye health. Oh, and choline is also thought to prevent age related memory loss. And if you purchase organic, pasture-fed or free-range eggs, they can be a great source of heart-healthy, Omega-3 fatty acids. Some chickens are even fed flax seed to up those levels even more.
And what about the protein?
Two eggs contain 15-20% of the RDI of protein for the average person, and more than 90 percent of that protein is able to be absorbed by the body. While many bodybuilder’s consider whey protein the best source of protein out there, when you consider that you can organic eggs for around 35 cents each, eggs give you a much better protein bang for your buck. Plus eggs are a whole food and very easy to cook.
Did you know?
Over 75 billion eggs are produced each year in the U.S. alone.
Check out this About.com article for some more information on selecting, storing and cooking eggs.