Should we be eating eggs?
The mighty egg has been a staple in many British homes for generations. They contain an array of health benefits yet some people have their concerns.
For many years there has been research published into the cholesterol content of eggs, and whether this has an impact on health. Individuals with known high cholesterol were told to avoid eggs as they were considered a high-cholesterol food. However, at present it is advised that people who have high-cholesterol reduce their intake of saturated fat (20g per day for women / 30g per day for men) and opt for healthier fats such as olive oil and rapeseed oil (monounsaturated fats). It is also recommended that these individuals increase their fibre intake, opt for low-fat dairy over full fat, and opt for lean meats over red or fatty meats. The current advise therefore means there is no need to cut eggs out of your diet!
The nutritional benefits of eggs make them a great addition to the diet. They are high in good quality protein, and contain all 9 essential amino-acids. Essential amino acids must be consumed through the diet as the body cannot make them itself, and in-turn they form a complete protein. They are also a great source of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, as well as B vitamins, selenium, zinc, iron and copper.
Eggs are also a great source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), which are mostly found in the egg yolk. Fat soluble vitamins are essential in the diet and are necessary for bone health, eye health, and immunity.
Some eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids due to the diet of the chickens. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid however these eggs have shorter shelf life than a typical egg. Just something to bear in mind if you’re paying the extra money!
The egg yolk doesn’t determine the quality of the egg. Some people believe that the richer the orange of the yolk, the better quality. This isn’t the case. In fact, the colour of the egg yolk is determined by the type of food the chicken eats! For example, pasture raised chickens predominantly eat grass and seeds. Whilst others may have additives in their food such a paprika and red peppers! This would in turn give the yolk a more orange colour.
For some people the concern around eating eggs isn’t just the cholesterol fear, but where the eggs come from. In the UK when buying your eggs look for the British Lion Code of Practise. This ensures that the eggs are produced to the highest quality, freshness and standards. The chickens are protected against Salmonella and you can even track your eggs back to the farm!
Another alternative is to buy from local farms. If you have the luxury of having local farms or even homes that sell eggs, this is a great way to know where your eggs are coming from. Most farms will have stalls by the road selling their eggs. This is a good way to support local businesses and you can be assured that you know the chickens are well cared for.
Due to the British Lion Code of Practise, it is now possible that infants, children, pregnant women and elderly people can eat raw or slightly cooked hen’s eggs. Due to their food safety controls, as long as the eggs are stamped with the British Lion Code of Practise any foods containing these eggs, or the eggs as a whole, can safely be consumed. If they are NOT stamped, not hen’s eggs or from outside the UK, these groups should avoid raw or slightly cooked eggs.
Eggs are a cheap, versatile, tasty and nutrient dense food. They are so handy to have in the kitchen for a quick lunch, breakfast or even dinner! Boiled, scrambled or poached they make a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet. When cooking opt for non-fried options to keep the saturated fat low, or if you must use a small amount of monounsaturated fats such as olive oil or rapeseed oil.
Egg yolks contain less protein than the white of an egg but contain most of the essential fats required in our diet. Therefore, don’t worry about eating the whole egg; the yolk also provides most of the flavour!
Shop locally if possible, but if not definitely look out for the British Lion stamp. This will ensure that the eggs are safe to consume and traceable to the farm.
Ultimately, whether you eat eggs or not is a personal choice. However, if you love eggs but had your concerns we hope this has helped clear up any of those.