Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nutrition ABCS...Eggs

There are some nutrition questions that never whether or not eggs are good for you. I am here to set the record straight (well, let's be might find some other opinions and then you will just have to decide for yourself who to believe.). I think eggs, if you are of the animal product eating sort, are fantastic. 

Of all the animal products you could choose, eggs are pretty light on the environment. And if you stop being so stingy and spend a bit more for eggs from a farm with humane animal husbandry practices, you can keep the chickens happy while they are on this earth producing food for you. I can't stress this not buy scary national brand, "where did these eggs come from?" eggs. Factory farming is horrific. Don't add to the demand for these kind of eggs.

So why do I think eggs are good for you? For starters, eggs really got a bad wrap when we decided that dietary cholesterol was the primary kick start to high blood cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. So the nutrition army rallied its troops to get you to stop eating eggs. Times have changed. So if you are still an egg-avoider, time to reconsider this humble breakfast staple.

Eggs are inexpensive and convenient sources of protein; in a world where we rely almost exclusively on inexpensive and convenient sources of white flour and sugar, eggs provide a break (pun intended) from the everyday. A large egg has just 70 calories for 6 grams of protein and a host of nutrients for better health: anti-oxidant lutein and zeaxanthin for your eyes, folate for a healthy nervous system, vitamin A for your skin and immune health and antioxidant selenium. They provide easily assimilated protein and are super versatile.  

Just a few of my favourite egg-eating ways...

- Hard-boiled and stashed in the fridge for meals and snacks on the go
- Tossed with leeks, mushrooms and spinach for a quick dinner fritatta
- Deviled with dijon mustard and a bit of freshly grated horseradish
- In the classic tortilla espanola
- Gently fried and layered on sprouted grain toast with fresh chevre, sliced tomato and a bit of pesto
- Chopped up on a salad for some energy-boosting protein to go with all those glorious greens

So if you are about to embark on an egg-siting new journey, how much is too much? Don't go all Atkins on me; you've gotta keep it balanced. Research suggests that an egg a day won't raise your risk of heart disease. However, another way to look at eggs is through your nutrition "budget". If you don't have heart disease consider eggs a "serving" of saturated fat and cholesterol. If you generally keep all your dairy skim, don't consume too many saturated fats from coconut, meat or butter, you have a bit more room to enjoy eggs as you like them. However, if you drink cream in your coffee and slather butter on your bread as you scarf down steak...well, we should really talk. And you should probably stick to egg white omelets.

I am not one to take chances with your health: if you have heart disease or high cholesterol, you have to keep your dietary cholesterol to under 200 mg a day. A large egg has 180, so there you go. You have to decide if the egg is worth the spend for you because you get your egg or your small piece of steak plus a bit of butter for that potato. You don't get both. 

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