Sometimes eggs get a bad rap from the media, or from your physician. But eggs also have some HUGE nutritional benefits. So celebrate National Egg Day with pride!
Choosing An Egg: Brown vs Eggs
This is another case of people assuming that white = bad when it comes to food. The difference in the two colors comes from the breed of chicken. Brown eggs are sometimes bigger than white eggs, so you might get MORE nutrition, but it's not BETTER nutrition: comparable sized eggs are exactly the same.
Choosing An Egg: Free-Range, Cage-Free, Organic, Omega-3 Enriched
So many phrases and claims! And most of them mean a higher price. What's the difference, and what's worth it?
Cage-free means the chickens aren't caged, but they can still be in very close quarters (depends on the farm). Free-range means they have the chance to get outside and have a little more free will on their location.
Organic means that the chickens are given organic feed, and don't receive antibiotics or vaccinations. Most are cage-free, but "organic" doesn't specify the housing system.
Omega-3 enriched means that the hens are given a feed that is enriched with omega-3 fats. The eggs aren't higher in fat, just the percentage of fat that is omega-3.
Of all of these claims, my personal "worth it" is the free-range. I like knowing that the chickens are getting outside and able to eat grass, and that they aren't just on top of each other all day. I'm not as concerned about organic when it comes to eggs (prioritize my organic dollars!). And I definitely don't think the omega-3 enriched are worth it. The amount of omega-3 just isn't worth the extra money for me. I'd rather have a couple of walnuts and call it a day.
Eggs are healthier than most people realize. People like simple tips, but that can quickly lead to oversimplifying and getting black and white about foods. Or parts of foods, as the case is with eggs. Don't ignore the yolk!
Egg whites are a great source of high-quality protein. But that's where the benefits end.
Egg yolks are a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin - two anti-inflammatory antioxidants that promote eye health. All of the vitamins and minerals in the egg live in the yolk - vitamins A, B-6, B-12, and D, as well as calcium, phosphorus, iron, selenium, and zinc.
Egg yolks contains the fat: about 4.5g of fat per yolk with 1.5g saturated fat (1/3 of the fat). And of course the cholesterol - close to 200mg.
The American Heart Association recommends cholesterol intake below 300mg per day which is about 1 1/2 egg yolks. But, recent research has shown that the cholesterol from eggs may not be as much of a factor in increasing heart disease risk as we once thought.
Most people can enjoy one or two eggs each day without worrying about their heart health. Of course, it's always good to check in with your physician if you already have a chronic disease or health concerns.
Enjoying Your Eggs
When you're eating more than 1 egg, consider substituting some of the whole eggs with egg whites to reduce the calories. But don't cut out all of those nutritious yolks!
Eggs pair great with veggies, which makes them part of a powerhouse meal. Consider an omelette with fresh basil, spinach, tomato and goat cheese. Or make your own egg sandwich at home.
Don't get stuck at breakfast! Try an egg salad sandwich made with greek yogurt. Or a hard-boiled egg on a salad.
Enjoy a non-traditional dinner - a quiche with asparagus, caramelized onions and gruyere. Looking for a nice cheap meal? How about this from Whole Living: Poached Egg with Rice and Edamame? We tried it, and LOVED IT! Here's the picture before I covered it with fresh ground pepper and sriracha!
How do you enjoy your eggs? Let me know in the comments.