by Dietitian Ellen
Question: Is the egg all that it is cracked up to be?
Answer: Absolutely. It may be *even more* than it is cracked up to be!
Just like Greek yogurt, eggs are not complicated. Although they were given a bad reputation in the past for increasing blood cholesterol, research in the past 10 years has shown that one egg per day is not harmful and will not have a negative effect on blood cholesterol levels. It has been found that dietary cholesterol, such as the cholesterol found in eggs, has a negligible effect on cholesterol in the blood (which is what affects your risk for heart disease). It has also been found that, on average, dietary levels of cholesterol in a standard egg have decreased by 14%. These days, a standard large egg contains about 185 mg of cholesterol. (“These days”?! I must have spent too much time on vacation this week and started picking up the locals' dialect. Sorry, y’all. :) )
So there you have it. Eggs are not as evil as they were once thought to be. (Disclaimer: I am not suggesting to make yourself a 12-egg omelet tomorrow for breakfast. One egg per day, two eggs every other day, or better yet, an egg plus an egg white every day would be a better choice.)
Enough about defending the egg, let’s talk about the beneficial nutritional qualities that make eggs a super food.
Eggs are a great source of digestible protein. Actually, they are nicknamed the “gold standard” of protein, because egg protein is one of the most easily digested proteins and egg protein contains all the essential amino acids, important for building lean muscle mass and repairing damaged tissue after a workout.
Eggs are an inexpensive and nutritious option. At approximately 15 cents apiece, a single egg contains 13 vitamins and minerals, about 6 grams of protein, and 72 calories. In addition to that, eggs also contain choline and biotin which are essential for building cell membranes, as well as other important nutrients like vitamin D, selenium, and lutein. We have talked about the benefits of vitamin D in prior articles. Selenium is important for preventing heart disease and some certain cancers. Lutein is essential for the prevention of age related macular degeneration.
The best thing about eggs is that they are easy to prepare. Even those who claim they cannot cook, can prepare eggs. (By the way… I have always been confused by those who say they "can’t cook." In my opinion, if you are able to read, you are able to cook. Since you are reading this blog, you are able to cook. If you are still unsure, contact me. I will be happy to teach you how to cook. And since I am saving you money by introducing you to inexpensive nutritious options, you will have extra money to pay me to teach you how to cook, right? Ok, maybe I took that one a little too far. You get the point. But seriously, let me know if you want me to teach you how to cook.)
Eggs are also quite versatile. Take a look at some of my favorite ways to use eggs:
Healthier Deviled Eggs: Using cottage cheese and fresh chives, these eggs have a flavorful punch without all the fat and calories. Give these a try to impress the family at Easter or for any time of year!
Mini BLT Quinoa Cups: Similar to the ham and cheese quinoa cups highlighted earlier in the series, these perfectly pop-able snacks are perfect for after a workout or for entertaining. The egg and quinoa provide a great source of protein which will fill you up and give you the energy you need.
Easy Breakfast Sandwich: This sandwich combines whole grains, lean protein, and vegetables to make a delicious, nutritious breakfast or snack.
Healthy Breakfast Pizza:
12-inch whole wheat pizza crust, pre-made
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup salsa
2 cups Egg Beaters, cooked and scrambled
1/3 cup green peppers, diced
1/2 cup reduced fat mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the crust on a pizza pan. Drizzle olive oil over crust and spread evenly. Spread salsa over crust. Spoon cooked scrambled eggs over crust. Sprinkle peppers and cheese over eggs. Place in oven for 12 minutes. Cut into eight pieces.
Microwaved Scrambled Egg: (for all those “non-cooks”)
1 tablespoon milk or water
In a bowl or coffee cup stir together egg and milk or water. Cover bowl/cup with paper towel to avoid having to clean up a mess after cooking. Cook on HIGH power 40-45 seconds or on 50% power 1 1/2 minutes. Scrambled egg comes out light and fluffy.
It is incredibly easy to boost the nutritional content of scrambled eggs by simply adding chopped vegetables like zucchini, onions, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, or mushrooms! The possibilities are endless. Throw your scrambled eggs into a whole wheat tortilla and top with salsa, and you have a delicious meal in no time!
What are your favorite ways to prepare eggs? Share them with us!
Ellen Ries, RD, LD
Read Dietitian Ellen’s introduction to this series: Super Foods for Athletes. Watch our blog every Friday for additional articles!