All about Eggs | Daily News


All about Eggs

Eggs have been a famous part in the regular diet of people for ages. Being small in size, there is a huge collection of nutrients inside that white or brown shell. Eggs are preferred by both young and adults and it is a versatile ingredient in the Western as well as Sri Lankan cuisine. The nutritional value of eggs is often underestimated and sometimes it is even regarded as a food causing harm especially to people with certain illnesses. There are a lot of myths in the Sri Lankan culture regarding eggs for many years and they have still managed to maintain their place in our country. Being a country with a satisfactory amount of eggs available in the country, the Sri Lankan population is far behind the recommendations in consuming eggs.

Eggs carry a lot of important nutrients which are essential for humans. A large of 50g has 6g of protein mainly in the egg white. Egg is a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids in it. These amino acids cannot be produced in the human body, therefore must be obtained from the diet. The biological value is highest in eggs when compared to other protein sources and it is second only to mother’s breast milk in its quality. Hence eggs are highly recommended to growing children as well as elderly. Older people tend to lose their muscles and their bones become weak with age, egg protein can help them and the soft consistency is an added plus point. An egg contains only about 70kcal of energy and there is a satiety effect given by the egg proteins which could help those who are trying to lose their weight. Boiled eggs are recommended for them and they will feel full sooner when there is an egg in their meal.

Nutrition facts

Except for vitamin C, eggs contain all the other vitamins and minerals in it. In fact it contains some vitamins in large amounts to fulfil a larger portion of the body’s requirements. Eggs are an excellent source of the vitamin Choline. An egg can provide nearly 25% of the body’s daily needs of this important nutrient. Choline is essential for the normal function of all cells in the body especially the nerves and brain. It is also vital for the normal brain function and memory development of infants and also of unborn babies in their mothers’ wombs. Selenium is another important nutrient found abundantly in eggs and on egg provides about 22% of the daily needs. It is essential for our body to fight against the harmful and toxic elements which enter the body to protect us from getting various chronic diseases. In addition, egg yolk is rich in vitamin A which helps in maintaining a healthy, glowing skin, protects from illnesses and improves vision. Eggs are also rich in vitamin B, riboflavin helps to provide energy for all the cells and vitamin B12 is very important for the nerves to function properly.

Eggs are an important source of good nutrition throughout the lifespan of humans. Eating eggs during pregnancy helps the brain growth and eye sight development of the unborn baby, in addition giving eggs to infants between six months to one year and young children from one year to three years helps your child to grow in addition to the above benefits. Children and teenagers need a lot of energy and protein to ensure adequate growth of their bodies and eggs can be an important contributor. Teenagers are in a stage where they are concerned a lot about their body image and appearance, girls in this age control their diets to make sure they don’t gain weight. As mentioned earlier, eggs can be their survivor. Boys are on the other side, they often visit gyms to build up a muscular body and are given protein supplements which could be harmful for the kidneys. Egg white is a rich source of excellent quality protein which can fulfil that requirement at a lower cost. Healthy adults can also consume an egg daily without any fear. Elderly people are also benefitted from eating eggs, because they help to prevent their muscle protein being lost and to maintain an active lifestyle. In addition to all these advantages, it has been found that eggs have a potential to boost our immunity to fight against infection and also contain important antioxidants to protect our body.

Despite all these benefits, Sri Lankans often mothers fear to give their children eggs due to various reasons. Many mothers often fear to give their children eggs when they complete six months and are started on complementary food. There is no reason to delay the introduction of eggs to babies. Babies can be given eggs at the initial stage of introducing solid food without any fear. The only concern is, the egg yolk should be introduced first then continued for two to three days. If the baby does not develop any reaction to it, the egg white can be added to the child’s diet. The mothers are advised to introduce one food item at a time, just to recognize whether the child develops any allergic reaction to a particular food item. Unless medically advised, any child can be given an egg a day in the main meal or even as a snack. A mashed boiled egg with a bit of butter can be a nutritious snack which is easily prepared. Children often like to eat eggs and the mothers should let go of all the doubts they have regarding this.

Dietary friend or foe

Mothers also believe that if their child is sick, eggs should be prohibited for them. This is practised because they believe that eggs can aggravate the child’s illness or increase the phlegm in children. Some mothers often restrain from giving eggs to their children on cold and rainy days, thinking that their children will fall ill with it. This is not true; eggs can be given to children when they are ill as well. In fact eggs can be something that children would prefer when they are sick because it is easy to chew and swallow, particularly in sore throat. In addition, children need more energy and nutrients in sickness than in health because they need more strength to fight with the ailment. So eggs can provide this additional nutrition in times of need.

It is a common belief that eggs increase the cholesterol levels in blood and that adults should not consume eggs daily. This was a recommendation which was put up by Western countries many years back but the new research studies have proven that consuming eggs regularly does not adversely affect the blood cholesterol levels in healthy people. The guidelines in many countries regarding the diet recommend that healthy individuals can consume an egg daily. In countries like Australia, this amount is much higher. The guideline for Sri Lankans also clearly mentions that healthy individuals can eat one egg per day. However it is wise for people with diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia and high blood pressure to reduce this amount to three to four eggs per week or follow the personalized advice from a medical professional.

Brown eggs are believed to be of superior quality than the white eggs. This is not true, because the colour of the shell does not determine the nutritive quality or flavour of eggs. It is simply because of the breed of hens which produce eggs. Some may doubt if the quality of both varieties is the same, why are the brown eggs more expensive? It is because the breed of hens which produce brown eggs need more food than those who produce white eggs. Owing to this fact rearing brown hens cost more and in turn the cost of an egg would also be more.

There is a preference for village eggs in many of the Sri Lankans thinking that they are more nutritious than the farm eggs. This is not true and the nutrients are the same in both. The colour of the egg yolk is also important when choosing eggs for some because they believe that yolks with a deeper yellow colour are more nutritious. The darker yolk colour does not indicate that it is better and often it is obtained by an artificial colouring which is added to the feed of these hens.

Some still fear to eat eggs thinking that farm eggs contain antibiotics. Many years back, antibiotics were permitted to be used in poultry farming as a growth promoter. This practice is banned in our country for more than ten years and the farm eggs in the market don not contain antibiotics.

Safe consumption

A major proportion of the Sri Lankan population being Buddhists it is believed that eating eggs is a sinful act because they contain a life in it. The table eggs which are in the market largely come from commercial poultry farms where there are no male birds (roosters) to produce fertile eggs. The consumers should not keep any doubts regarding this aspect because eggs which come from farms are not fertile.

When buying eggs, it is always wise to select packaged eggs with the date of manufacturing and date of expiry to give priority to fresh eggs. But if it is not possible, always select eggs which are visibly clean from the outside without any damages or cracks on the eggs shells. Fresh eggs tend to sink to the bottom of a container filled with water while an egg which is a few weeks old tends to float on the surface. An old egg may also be safe for consumption, if it does not give an unpleasant smell when it is cracked open and put into a container. After bringing eggs home it is better if they are stored in the refrigerator. If they are left outside they will lose their quality after about 10 to 14 days but in the refrigerator they will survive for 3 to 5 weeks. The refrigerator door is not the best place to store eggs; they should be placed in the main compartment (preferably in first or second shelf) of the refrigerator.

(The writer is a Post Graduate trainee in MSc Human Nutrition)

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