Eggs are available year round to provide not only delicious meals on their own but as an essential ingredient for the many baked goods and sauces that would never be the same without them.
Composed of a yellow yolk and translucent white surrounded by a protective shell, the incredible nature of the egg is partially found in their unique food chemistry which allows them help in coagulation, foaming, emulsification and browning.
The history of the egg as food runs mostly parallel with the history of people consuming chicken as food. Although it is uncertain when and where it began, the practice of raising chickens for food is ancient and so, subsequently, is the consumption of eggs as food, extending back to the times of early man.
Eggs have always been a symbol of fertility and have been an icon of religious worship. To this day, there is still a lot of folklore surrounding eggs that is enjoyed by different cultures around the world.
One of the most widely held food and holiday associations is that of the Easter egg. How the egg became associated with this holiday seems to have roots that are both biological and cultural. Before more modern techniques of poultry raising, hens laid few eggs during the winter. This meant that Easter, occuring with the advent of spring, coincided with the hen’s renewed cycle of laying numerous eggs. Additionally, since eggs were traditionally considered a food of luxury, they were forbidden during Lent, so Christians had to wait until Easter to eat them—another reason eggs became associated with this holiday. Interestingly enough, the custom of painting eggshells has an extensive history and was a popular custom among many ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Persians.
Eggs are a good source of low-cost high-quality protein, providing 6.3 grams of protein (13% of the daily value for protein) in one egg for a caloric cost of only 68 calories. The structure of humans and animals is built on protein. We rely on animal and vegetable protein for our supply of amino acids, and then our bodies rearrange the nitrogen to create the pattern of amino acids we require.
Boost Brain Health with Eggs’ Choline
Another health benefit of eggs is their contribution to the diet as a source of choline. An egg contains about 113 mg of choline. Although our bodies can produce some choline, we cannot make enough to make up for an inadequate supply in our diets, and choline deficiency can also cause deficiency of another B vitamin critically important for health, folic acid.
Choline is definitely a nutrient needed in good supply for good health. Choline is a key component of many fat-containing structures in cell membranes, whose flexibility and integrity depend on adequate supplies of choline. Two fat-like molecules in the brain, phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, account for an unusually high percentage of the brain’s total mass, so choline is particularly important for brain function and health.
Eggs and Heart Health
In addition to its significant effects on brain function and the nervous system, choline also has an impact on cardiovascular health since it is one of the B vitamins that helps convert homocysteine, a molecule that can damage blood vessels, into other benign substances. Eggs are also a good source of vitamin B12, another B vitamin that is of major importance in the process of converting homocysteine into safe molecules.
Eggs are high in cholesterol, and health experts in the past counseled people to therefore avoid this food. (All of the cholesterol in the egg is in the yolk.) However, nutrition experts have now determined people on a low-fat diet can eat one or two eggs a day without measurable changes in their blood cholesterol levels. This information is supported by a statistical analysis of 224 dietary studies carried out over the past 25 years that investigated the relationship between diet and blood cholesterol levels in over 8,000 subjects. What investigators in this study found was that saturated fat in the diet, not dietary cholesterol, is what influences blood cholesterol levels the most.
Helping to Prevent Blood Clots
Eating eggs may help lower risk of a heart attack or stroke by helping to prevent blood clots. A study published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin demonstrated that proteins in egg yolk are not only potent inhibitors of human platelet aggregation, but also prolong the time it takes for fibrinogen, a protein present in blood, to be converted into fibrin. Fibrin serves as the scaffolding upon which clumps of platelets along with red and white blood cells are deposited to form a blood clot. These anti-clotting egg yolk proteins inhibit clot formation in a dose-dependent manner—the more egg yolks eaten, the more clot preventing action.(That being said, it’s still important to only eat the amount of eggs that fits within your own personal Healthiest Way of Eating.)
Eggs Protect Eyesight without Increasing Cholesterol
Protection against Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Cataracts
Improve Your Cholesterol Profile
An Egg Breakfast Helps Promote Weight Loss
Eggs’ Choline Reduces Inflammation
Eggs are egg-ceptional foods. They are whole foods, prepackaged sources of carbohydrates, protein, fat and micronutrients. Yet, their eggs-quisite nutritional value should not be surprising when you remember that an egg contains everything needed for the nourishment of a developing chick.