THE EGG-CEPTIONAL EGG (Excerpts from an article entitled "The Truth About Eggs",
By Sebastien Stefanov, Nutrition Correspondent)
Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the last few decades. Deemed bad for the heart by health experts, they have been the subjects of criticism and scrutiny. But are our white (sometimes brown) friends really that unhealthy for us? In the last few years, numerous health organizations have been vindicating eggs' reputation. So what are we to believe; why were eggs chastised, only to be acclaimed again?
Old egg myths
It was previously thought that eggs raised blood cholesterol levels -- one of the main causes of heart disease. The yolk in a single large egg contains five grams of fat, so it was only natural for nutritionists to assume that eggs clogged up people's arteries, especially since they also contain dietary cholesterol .
Another myth was that cholesterol is fat. That is simply not true. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that resembles fat, but has little to do with it. Today, scientists know that cholesterol content in food and the cholesterol in our blood aren't as directly related as once thought. So to unravel the mystery that is the egg, one must look at cholesterol.
First, one has to understand that cholesterol is not necessarily bad. Humans need it to maintain cell walls, insulate nerve fibers and produced vitamin D, among other things. Second, there are two types of cholesterol: dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol . Both are important.
Dietary cholesterol is found in certain foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and diary products. The second type (blood cholesterol, also called serum cholesterol) is produced in the liver and floats around in our bloodstream. Blood cholesterol is divided into two sub-categories: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). LDL cholesterol is considered bad because it sticks to artery walls.
What is bad, however, is the amount of LDL blood cholesterol in the body. Too much of it can cause heart problems, but scientists are now discovering that consuming food rich in dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol. At least that is what some experts believe (they are somewhat disagreeing on the matter... as usual).
Evidence showing that eating a lot of dietary cholesterol doesn't increase blood cholesterol was discovered during a statistical analysis conducted over 25 years by Dr. Wanda Howell and colleagues at the University of Arizona. The study revealed that people who consume two eggs each day with low-fat diets do not show signs of increased blood cholesterol levels.
So what does raise blood cholesterol? One of the main theories is that saturated fat does. Of the three types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and LDL levels. It so happens that eggs contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, which can actually lower blood cholesterol if one replaces food containing saturated fat with eggs.
If you're a bodybuilder, you need eggs Eggs are actually quite nutritious. They are not just fat (yolk) and protein (white). In fact, they contain a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals. Here is what's in an egg...
Vitamins:Best type of protein
A: good for the skin and growth.
D: strengthens bones by raising calcium absorption.
E: protects cells from oxidation.
B1: helps properly release energy from carbohydrates.
B2: helps release energy from protein and fat.
B6: promotes the metabolism of protein.
B12: an essential vitamin in the formation of nerve fibers and blood cells.
Iron: essential in the creation of red blood cells.
Zinc: good for enzyme stability and essential in sexual maturation.
Calcium: most important mineral in the strengthening of bones and teeth.
Iodine: controls thyroid hormones.
Selenium: like vitamin E, it protects cells from oxidation.
If that wasn't enough, egg whites contain the purest form of protein found in whole-foods. It is so high that nutritionists use them as the standard when comparing other whole-food proteins. Their "biological value" -- a measurement used to determine how efficiently a protein is used for growth -- is 93.7. Milk, fish, beef, and rice respectively have a bio value of 84.5, 76, 74.3, and 64.
The higher the value, the better the protein is absorbed. This is why many bodybuilders include eggs in their diet. When a person eats beef, for instance, all of the protein is not necessarily absorbed and used to rebuild tissue.
Protein is a complex substance, which is why bodybuilding protein supplement makers are constantly trying to refine the quality of their product and why some protein shake brands boast that their protein is made from egg whites. Having said that, each large egg contains 6.3 grams of protein.
Eating and Cooking Eggs
Experts advise that despite being low in saturated fat, one should not eat more than two eggs a day on a low-fat diet. Egg yolk is mainly fat, so even though it doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels, it can cause other problems if abused.
Contaminated eggs kill up to 5000 individuals each year. One egg in 10,000 is contaminated with salmonella, so you should never eat undercooked eggs, make eggnog on your own or mimic Rocky by swallowing them raw.
The proper way to cook eggs depends on the type of food served. The American Egg Board advises that grills should never be set higher than 250F. Anything above that will leave the interior raw while burning the outside. If an egg has runny parts, it means it is still not cooked properly.
So now you know the truth about the incredible, edible egg. Once a foe, now a friend, this mighty whole-food contains many great nutrients and isn't as bad as people once thought. A great source of protein and easy to prepare, eggs are nature's golden food... if you don't eat too much of them, that is
More on Cholesterol in Health & Fitness
Pity the poor egg: It gets cracked, scrambled, and whipped—not to mention unfairly maligned as the villain of the breakfast world. That's because there's a misguided belief that the cholesterol in eggs (found in the yolk) raises the cholesterol levels in your body and puts your ticker at risk. But good news, frittata fans: Research supporting the health bennies of eggs is piling up. And several studies—including a recent one in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found no link in healthy people between eggs and either heart attack or stroke—have debunked the bad-egg myth. Four reasons eggs rock:
They may reduce your risk of cancer.
Whole eggs are one of the best sources of the nutrient choline (one large egg has about 30 percent of your RDA). A study published this year found that women with a high intake of choline were 24 percent less likely to get breast cancer. Note: Choline is found mostly in the yolk, so feel free to ditch the egg-white omelets.
Eggs keep your peepers peeping.
Yolks are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that have been shown to ward off macular degeneration — so you'll still be able to eyeball hotties from afar when you're 80.
An omelet a day can shrink your waist.
Louisiana State University system researchers found that obese people who ate a two-egg breakfast at least five times a week lost 65 percent more weight and had more energy than women who breakfasted on bagels. "Eggs are more satisfying than carbs, making you feel full longer," says Kristine Clark, Ph.D., R.D., assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State.
Your abs eat them up.
These little orbs contain a certain sequence of amino acids that makes egg protein easy for your body to absorb. Which means a hard-boiled grade-A is an ideal muscle-repair food after a butt-busting workout.
Which eggs are best?
All eggs contain the same basic good stuff, and the large ones pack only 72 calories each, so you really can't go wrong. But depending on your eating habits, special eggs may be worth the extra cash.
Labels to look for:
- Organic: These eggs were laid by chickens that aren't fed nasty slaughterhouse byproducts, antibiotics, or certain additives.
- Pasteurized: Using raw eggs? Look for this word on the label. It means the eggs have been placed in warm water to kill bacteria.
- Omega-3 Enhanced: If you rarely eat fish, buy these to snag more of the heart-healthy fatty acids.
Labels to skip (they don't guarantee happy chickens)
- Cage Free
- Free Range
- Pasture Raised
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