The Truth about the Incredible Egg
Cracking the nutritional facts
New research shows that eggs really aren’t that bad for us, and the nutritional facts are even more compelling. At 70 calories, eggs contain every major vitamin, except C, and are a great source of high-quality protein, according to the Colorado Egg Producers.
These nutrients can play a role in weight management by helping you feel fuller for longer and adding to your overall energy level. The high-quality protein found in eggs can help build muscle strength and prevent muscle loss in active adults. Egg yolks, once thought to be the most detrimental part of the egg, are an excellent source of choline, a critical nutrient for pregnant moms because it contributes to fetal brain development and helps prevent birth defects. And two antioxidants found in eggs – lutein and zeaxanthin – aid in eye health by helping to prevent macular degeneration.
Although eggs are high in cholesterol, they’re low in saturated fats and therefore have been welcomed back into our diets.
Making the grade
So now that we’ve been cleared to consume, we need to understand some buying basics.
The American Egg Board says egg grades are vital to determining the quality of eggs. Grading, which includes AA, A and B, is determined by the interior and exterior quality of the egg at the time it is packed. Eggs are examined and sorted according to weight (size) and quality, but one is not related to the other, so once you choose the grade you may also have a choice in size. Most grocery stores only carry grade AA and/or Grade A eggs. When buying from a producer or farmer’s market, you should always ask for grade determination prior to purchase.
Brown vs. White
Brown eggs have become more prevalent in grocery stores in recent years and the color choice is a heated debate among celebrity television chefs, who proclaim their preference – either brown or white – at every chance.
While brown eggs are sometimes advertised as being a healthier choice than white, the truth is they are virtually identical in content. In fact, the determining factor for the eggshell color is the breed and color of the producing chicken, according to FitDay.com. Brown eggs come from brown hens and white eggs come white hens … it’s that simple.
It’s all about the label
But there’s still more to understand about eggs and their marketing labels. A scan of the egg cartons at the market can also raise questions about free range, cage-free, organic and vegetarian eggs. Scott Kustes of Real Food University says it’s much ado about, well, almost nothing.
Cage-free means just that. Hens are able to move about inside a barn without being confined to cages. It’s definitely more humane than having them confined to a space so small that they can’t even spread their wings and their beaks often treated to prevent pecking at each other.
When you hear free-range you might be thinking about chickens roaming in large pastures. Not so, says Kustes. “Really all that’s needed is a door to the outside that gives the chickens access to an outdoor area,” he says. “Whether they use it or not is irrelevant, so this is a meaningless term.”
Organic means the hens were fed organic feed and vegetarian means they were fed vegetarian feed, which may be important to people who share that same dietary philosophy.
The next time you shop for eggs, choose Grade AA or A in whatever color you like with a special marketing label or not, but by all means buy and then scramble, poach, boil or devil to your heart’s content.