Trying to put together menus that incorporated the maximum beauty foods, I realized that I had only explored three protein options- yogurt, shrimp and mussels– good start but more is definitely needed. I decided to start with breakfast and go up close and personal with eggs.
Available everywhere, affordable and quick to cook, eggs pack big nutrition into that little oval shell. One average size egg has six grams of protein and a respectable load of vitamin A, B2, folic acid, B6, choline, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin D– and all there for less than 70 calories. Chicken fed a diet of polyunsaturated fats and kelp will also be a source of omega-3 fatty acids which is a great added value to the basic egg. Eggs are just about everrywhere and added to just about everything. In addition to being the primo breakfast protein, eggs are in breads, desserts and a key ingredient in standards like meatballs, chicken cutlets, and lasagna.
The Egg White Option
Because of the fat and cholesterol in the yolk of the egg, nutritionists and cardiologists often recommend using only the whites of an egg. On average an egg white has 17 fat free calories and can be used in most recipes that call for whole eggs. However an egg white has half the protein and little to none of the vitamin A, D , E and omega 3’s found in a whole egg. Egg white substitutes often add back missing vitamins ( good news) as well as vegetable oil and food coloring ( not so good news).
The Dark Side of Eggs
Despite an impressive nutritional payload, eggs come with several troubling health issues:
1. Cholesterol– a single egg has more than 250 milligrams of cholesterol– almost the entire recommended daily limit . ( FYI an omlette in a restaurant usually uses three eggs). While most recent studies suggest that the cholesterol in eggs is not quite as lethal as first thought , most nutritionists still recommend a limit of 3-4 whole eggs per week.
2. Eggs and Diabetes–This one really freaked me out. Data from both the prestigious Woman’s Health Study and the Physician’s Health Study suggest that a diet high in eggs comes with an increased risk of diabetes. Other research indicates that a high egg intake increases risk of heart disease in men and women with diabetes. SInce I already have diabetes, I don’t want to eat anything that could make it worse.
3. Contaminated eggs– In recent years there have been several widespread salmonella outbreaks traced to contaminated eggs. In 2010, more than 2000 people became ill and 500,000 eggs had to be recalled. Formerly found only in a cracked shell, salmonella can be found inside clean, undamaged eggs. To avoid severe food poisoning its necessary to cook eggs throughly which means no runny sunny side ups, soft scrambled or soft boiled eggs.
The list of do’s and don’ts to prevent food poisoning from eggs is long and includes watching hands, utensils and work surfaces that came into contact with raw eggs, throw out eggs if a bit of shell falls in, and don’t taste recipes with raw eggs before cooking. Because I don’t want to follow a Hazmat routinue everytime I cook with eggs, I’m now going to be using pasturized, processed egg whites when a recipe calls for eggs. Any recipe suggestions?