Today is National Egg Day! I haven’t celebrated yet (I started today with a green smoothie, followed by a blender disaster) but I’m planning on digging into last night’s leftover quiche for lunch today. (Swirly Crustless Quiche from Practical Paleo.)
I thought this would be a good day to lock down the latest research on eggs, are they a superfood or super bad?
One large egg has about 70 calories, 5grams of fat and 6 grams of protein. The yolk also packs a cholesterol punch ranging from 170-190mg per egg. Blood LDL “Bad” Cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) is thought to be a marker for heart disease. Therefore the American Heart Association recommends less than 300mg of cholesterol from food per day in order to prevent an unwanted rise in levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. However, the verdict is still out on whether dietary cholesterol has a significant effect on levels in the blood. Some studies suggest that healthy people can have one egg a day with no adverse affects. However, other studies show that in those with diabetes or existing heart disease more than 3 eggs a week may be detrimental to their health.
Eggs are a relatively inexpensive source of high quality protein. Their optimal mix of protein and fat are thought to help contribute to satiety. One study found that participants in a weight loss program lost more weight when fed eggs for breakfast versus a bagel breakfast.
The nutrients in eggs may change slightly with the type of feed that the chickens consume.
Those fed an omega-3 supplemented diet will have darker yolk composed of a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids than those fed a traditional diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory affect and promote heart health.
Hens, which are pasture fed, (primarily feeding off of sprouts and clovers) have 3 to 5 times the amount of Vitamin E compared to a conventionally farmed egg. In addition, they also have higher profiles of omega-3 fatty acids.
What’s the difference?
When it comes down to labeling of eggs, unfortunately it’s often misleading…
- Brown Eggs- No nutritional difference from white eggs, produced by a different color hen.
- Organic– required to give hens outdoor access, but no definition on time. Must be fed certified organic feed, but not required to be high in omega-3s.
- Cage Free- Not held in cages, not guaranteed access to the out doors either.
- Free Range- Not held in cages, have access to the out doors but not for any guaranteed amount of time.
- Pasture Raised- Similar to free range.
I recommend buying from a local farmer which you know provides high quality feed and good living conditions whenever possible. If that isn’t an option, look for options that will have the highest of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids possible.
Superbad or Superfood?
In my opinion eggs still make the superfood list because of the nutrient punch and high quality protein they provide. In addition, recent research is revealing that Saturated Fat intake, as well as consumption of refined grains may have a great effect on heart health than cholesterol intake. If you are diabetic or have a higher risk of heart disease proceed with caution until the research is more clear. No matter what your health status it’s still smart to chose high quality eggs with a high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids.
Some egg recipes to help you celebrate:
What’s your favorite way to eat eggs?
I love eggs in all forms including scrambled, microwaved, hard- boiled, baked into quiches… I do NOT discriminate. I think my favorite way to have an egg though is in an egg sandwich. I really wish I could have this one from Hawaii again!