Choosing Quality Eggs
Eggs are one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. They are rich in essential micronutrients and provide high-quality protein. There are innumerable benefits of eating eggs regularly. Selection of eggs is simple, but presence of different varieties of eggs in the market and different health claims on egg cartons might confuse consumers. In this article, we talk all about how to choose quality eggs, and have also listed some tips that could help in safe handling of eggs.
Eggs contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals and are a good source of protein of high biological values. Biological value refers to the proportion of absorbed protein from a food item which is incorporated into the proteins of the organism’s body. Eggs are one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D which has several health benefits. They are also a good source of biotin, which plays a vital role in assisting enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in food. They also contain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin that help protect our body from free radicals.
The nutritive values of eggs differ from each other. The table below summarizes the nutritive values of eggs of different bird species-
|Water (%)||72.8 -75.6||71.6-75.7||71.3-74.1||73.1-76.4||68.2-71.4||68.9-72.3|
|Proteins (%)||12.8 – 13.4||12.6-13.6||12.8-14.2||12.5-13.4||13.1-14.2||13.4-14.3|
|Fats (%)||10.5 – 11.8||10.8-12.6||11.2-12.8||10.6-11.7||13.8-15.0||12.4-13.6|
|Carbohydrates (%)||0.3 – 1.0||0.6-0.8||0.7-0.9||0.8-1.0||1.1-1.3||1.1-1.3|
|Ash (%)||0.8 – 1.0||0.7-0.9||0.7-0.1||1.0-1.2||0.9-1.0||1.0-1.4|
Egg Yolk Vs Egg White
Many health-conscious people discard egg yolk and prefer only the egg white portion of the egg as it is rich in proteins, and has very less amounts of fat and cholesterol. But it must be noted that fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A & D are present only in the egg yolk portion. The yolk also contains many essential B-Complex vitamins.
Health Claims on Egg Cartons: What do they mean?
- Organic Eggs: If you see a Jaivik Bharat Logo or USFDA Organic Logo on any egg carton, it means that the birds were given only organic feed and it had no fungicides, herbicides, commercial fertilizers, and pesticides. It also ensures that the birds were not given any antibiotics.
- Antibiotic-Free: Usually, birds are given antibiotics in their feed, to prevent any disease in animal farms. Constant use of these antibiotics leads to antibiotics residue in birds, leading to anti-microbial resistance in the population. Birds raised organically are not given antibiotics. It is always recommended to pick antibiotics free eggs and other meat products.
- Omega-3: Eggs labelled to have Omega-3 are the ones from birds that are fed with Omega-3 fatty acids rich feeds. The Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have several health benefits.
- No added hormones: Farmers aren’t allowed to give their egg-laying hens hormones, so “no added hormones” is basically a marketing term. Because all eggs could technically be labelled “no added hormones”. Don’t spend extra cash looking for a carton based on this.
- Brown vs. White: Whether the egg is brown or white has no bearing on its nutritive values. Different breeds of laying hens lay different colours of eggs. Eggs can be white, brown, and tan, depending on the breed.
Myths about Eggs
Egg yolk should be discarded due to the cholesterol content
A single egg contains about 180-200 mg of cholesterol which is over half of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg, and this is a concern for many health experts which is why they refrain from recommending regular daily consumption of eggs. It has been found that eating egg yolk affects different people, differently i.e., the response to eating whole eggs varies between individuals. One study suggests that in 70% of people, eggs don’t raise cholesterol at all, and in 30%, eggs can raise total and LDL cholesterol. It is recommended that individuals with genetic history of hypercholesterolemia should limit the consumption of egg yolks. Also, it is advisable to eat egg yolks in moderation. So, suppose if you are having two eggs a day, it’s better to eat one whole egg and discard the yolk of the other egg to keep the cholesterol intake in check.
If eggs are dirty, wash them to remove the dirt
Eggs become porous when washed, hence never wash eggs. Also, due to washing, Salmonella (a kind of bacteria that causes food borne infection) can move into the inside of the egg through pores in the shell, increasing the risk of infection.
Eggs remain fresh if stored at room temperature and need not be refrigerated
Refrigerating eggs keeps them fresh for longer duration as compared to storing them at room temperature and also minimises the risk of any bacterial growth.
Raw eggs are better than cooked eggs and aids recovery from any disease
Never give raw eggs to anyone including pregnant woman, infants or older people as eating raw eggs enhances the risk of Salmonella infection. It should never be given in raw form to those who are seriously ill, especially when they are sick. It is preferably better to consume cooked eggs in which egg white is firm and yolk is completely thickened. Cooking eggs does not reduce the protein content or nutrients present in them to an unavailable form.
Storage and Food Handling Tips
- Always check the best before date before buying eggs.
- Don’t buy packages with cracked eggs, they are more prone to bacterial infection. If your purchased pack has a cracked egg, throw it away.
- Refrigerate eggs in their carton only to prevent cross-contamination. Avoid storing in side doors where the temperature varies.
- Cook eggs until the whites and yolks have solidified, to prevent food-borne illnesses.
- Try to consume cooked egg recipes within 2 hours. Don’t leave it for more than 2 hours at room temperature.
- Bad or rotten eggs smell bad and can taste fine.So, if an egg smells bad, throw it away.
Testing the Freshness of Eggs
If the egg floats, it indicates that it is a stale/ rotten egg. The egg might float beacause of its weak shell and fine cracks.