Eggs Protein And Cholesterol

Eggs, specifically chicken eggs, have been a part of the human diet in almost every corner of the world for thousands of years. Recently, they’ve been the focus of both positive and negative attention. As we search for a final verdict on eggs, protein and cholesterol concerns both play a role.

Cholesterol and Eggs

During the 1980’s, research revealed new links between heart disease and fats, and the egg was maligned as a source of unhealthy cholesterol. At that time, cholesterol was being confused with fat and found guilty by association. Although they are both soft, waxy substances, cholesterol and fat are not the same.

Cholesterol is now known to exist in two forms: dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. The first comes from what we eat. The second is produced by our liver. Cardiovascular trouble arises from high levels of low density lipoprotein in our blood cholesterol.

In short summary: Though it does provide a moderate amount of dietary cholesterol, the egg is not guilty as charged. Not for this crime, anyway. Most of us can eat at least two eggs every day with little or no elevating effect on blood cholesterol levels. In fact, as a source of lean protein and the necessary amino acid, choline–which is difficult to obtain from other foods–eggs are looking better and better every day.

Protein and Eggs

The egg is an almost perfect package of total nutrients, which makes sense given that a baby chick grows and thrives only on the contents of this little shell. Egg whites provide us with a source of animal protein that is more efficiently processed by our bodies than milk and meat. Egg yolks contain choline, a vital nutrient that 90 percent of us do not receive in adequate daily amounts, according to Rodale (2010). Eggs also contain high levels of the following:

  • Vitamin A: For skin health and cell growth
  • Vitamin B2: To help metabolize carbohydrates
  • Vitamin B6: To help metabolize proteins
  • Vitamin B12: For nerve development
  • Vitamin E: For eye health, energy, and liver function

Salmonella and Eggs

The remaining public relations challenge for the egg is its unfortunate connection with salmonella, a genus of dangerous and potentially life-threatening bacteria that can grow in the intestines of a chicken. Salmonella was once found only in cracked eggs, but has now can appear inside eggs that have not been cracked.

The best way to prevent salmonella contamination is to cook eggs thoroughly and avoid cross contamination of food surfaces. Hard boiled eggs, poached eggs and scrambled eggs are usually salmonella-free, but any infirm or flowing portion of a cooked egg may still be unsafe.

Factory Egg Farming

Egg production facilities that maintain hens in unsanitary and inhumane conditions are presently under scrutiny and are being exposed for their flaws and the dangers they introduce into our food supply. Fortunately, cage-free facilities are increasingly common. Most grocery store chains now stock cage-free eggs, a widely available, healthier and similarly priced alternative.

Resources

Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School. (2010). Egg nutrition and heart disease: Eggs aren’t the dietary demons they’re cracked up to be. Retrieved September 13, 2010, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/egg-nutrition

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Eggs: Are they good or bad for my cholesterol? Retrieved September 13, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol/HQ00608

Rodale, Inc. (2010). Preserve your memory with these choline-rich recipes. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.rodale.com/choline-source