Myths about eggs cracked for good
Leading dietitian says Kiwis can eat eggs every day - and science agrees.
Take a look at Sarah Hanrahan’s lunchbox – there’s a bowl of roast vegetable salad leftover from last night, with some chickpeas alongside. But here comes the crowning glory: an egg.
“I’ll put a teaspoon of olive oil in the frypan and break in an egg. I’ll gently fry it until it’s crispy on the bottom and fudgy on the top,” says Sarah (the trick to achieving this consistency is to put a lid on the frypan when the bottom is crisp).
Sarah is CEO of the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. She will regularly reach for eggs as a healthy balance to a meal, whether a solo sitting or to feed her family of hungry teenagers.
“Eggs are a good affordable source of protein,” says Sarah. “Because they are nutrient-rich - alongside the protein they contain 11 vitamins and minerals - they are a good everyday food.”
There are plenty of other pluses. They are a perfectly portioned food that comes ready-packaged. This can be of particular help to people watching their weight. Research papers have shown a positive link between egg consumption and a feeling of fullness.
Says Sarah, a qualified dietitian: “One of the things people struggle with is how much to eat - and here is this food that comes pre-portioned.” She notes Weight Watchers have eggs as one of their “zero points” foods.
Families on a budget and older people can derive numerous benefits from having a carton of eggs at hand. They’re a good everyday food for older people in particular – we know it’s important that protein is distributed throughout their day.
And eggs are extremely versatile. Sarah subscribes to the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall notion (he’s the English celebrity cook and star of TV’s River Cottage with a back-to-basics philosophy) that the egg is the cook’s secret weapon. He calls it the unsung hero of 1001 dishes and says he has yet to find a way of serving an egg that he didn’t fundamentally think was wonderful.
Plain or fancy, there’s a place for them every day, she says: “There’s no excuse not to eat well if you have eggs in your pantry or fridge.”
Long gone is the message we had to limit our egg intake because of their cholesterol levels. Those rules were applied some time ago but science has moved since then. We now know more, which has changed scientific opinion.
Substantial research now available concludes that an increase of dietary cholesterol, including from eggs, has little or no effect on serum cholesterol levels (the bad stuff). Eggs have only 1.1 grams of saturated fat, lower fat levels than other animal-based protein foods, such as chicken drumstick legs or sirloin steak, and are good sources of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats.
In addition to all their other magic properties, they are a rich source of the nutrient choline which has been shown to have a protective role against many diseases and health conditions.
Eggs are among the most naturally nutritious foods on earth – and the New Zealand Ministry of Health Eating & Activity Guidelines state eggs can be enjoyed by most people every day of the week.
Eggs are the ready-made hero of the day, says Sarah: “Whether you’re enjoying a poached egg, a favourite pie or whipping up a meal for the family, they will provide a healthy and delicious answer on a daily basis.”
To read more and for more nutritional information, recipes and tips: www.eggseveryday.org.nz