You might think that if we had found the world’s most perfect food that it would have been created by our brightest minds in a laboratory somewhere in the middle of the desert. Well what if we have actually been eating it for almost 10,000 years, and only now recognise their brilliance? Of course I am talking about the egg.
While we eat eggs produced by all sorts of birds, for the purpose of today I’ll be focusing on the simple, but classic, hen’s egg. Much like a snowflake, each egg is unique, but fortunately for us the nutritional aspects of the egg are fairly consistent. You don’t get the reputation of being a perfect food for nothing – so let’s take a closer look at one of nature’s finest creations.
Firstly, the versatility of an egg is probably only rivaled by the potato. As that Tropicana advert correctly identified, whether boiled or fried, eggs are always quite satisfying – and that’s before you even consider poached, scrambled, Benedict etc. Eggs are also incredibly convenient. I imagine it would be quite difficult to find a household that didn’t have eggs and even if you did, they’re cheap enough that it won’t cripple you financially to purchase some.
And all of that is before we have even thought about the nutritional side of it. The obvious nutrient to discuss is protein, with each one containing around 6 grams (or about 13g per 100g). What makes an egg a complete protein though? When we talk about complete proteins we mean foods that contain all 9 of the essential amino acids for humans, and egg is one of those. In fact somebody out there even took the time to generate a protein efficiency ratio, and because the egg was such a stand-out performer, it’s now the food stuff that we use to compare other foods to in terms of protein levels.
Jam packed with all this protein you could be forgiven for thinking that there wouldn’t be room for any vitamins or minerals. Again mother nature works in her special way to defy logic though. The minerals found in eggs include iron, calcium, potassium and choline, as well as vitamins A, D and E. The one item on that list that you might not be too familiar with is choline, and if you are you will probably know all about it’s association with brain development. Actually, the link is that strong that pregnant women are encouraged to eat eggs to help the development in the brain of the fetus.
Eggs aren’t without their criticism of course. The debate surrounding the yolk of an egg is one that is still ongoing. The yolk of the egg generally contains about 5 grams of fat, but of that only 1.6 grams is saturated fat. The cholesterol level in an egg yolk is also relatively high, but again, this isn’t all bad cholesterol.
This criticism has led to many bodybuilders sticking just to eating egg whites, which conversely contain absolutely no fat whatsoever. The problem is though that if you remove the yolk you can kiss goodbye to about half of the protein and each and every vitamin/mineral I mentioned earlier.
So even if eggs are the perfect food and a complete protein, you still shouldn’t eat them to excess. But the nutritional benefits, especially considering their size, is undoubtedly impressive. Here’s just a few more things to remember about eggs:
- They’re alphabetically graded – starting with Grade A as the best
- The size of an egg is defined by its weight, not diameter or circumference
- There’s no point trying to get the egg that has the most attractive colour – colour determines breed, not necessarily flavour
- The best-before date on eggs refers to the day 28 days after the eggs were laid
So that’s it, I’ve eggs-austed all of my knowledge on eggs (and I managed to wait until the last line to use an egg-related pun).