It EGGcellent News
“Don’t have more than three eggs per week”, “Have as many eggs as you like”, “Only have the egg white and not the yolk”. Well. Which one is it, because this is damn confusing!
It’s amazing how a tiny, oval food item, that is found in so many foods, has caused such controversy. The real question is, do eggs deserve all the bad rep that they have?! A whole egg contains a wide array of important nutrients that truly benefit our body. Yes, you heard me. That’s one whole, full egg! Many people are stuck in a craze of ordering egg-white only omelettes as they think they are being healthy, when in fact they are missing out on the most magical part of all – the golden yolk.
Egg whites provide a great source of high-quality protein, while egg yolks contain minerals, vitamins, fats and other important nutrients. Loaded with vitamin A, Selenium, B vitamins and choline; this palm-sized health-grenade is exactly one protein portion and even contains small amounts of vitamin D, folic acid, iron, zinc, magnesium and more.
Anyone heard of choline before? Choline is a nutrient that certainly does not get enough attention. It plays an important role in cognitive function through all stages of life. During fetal development, it plays a major role in the development of the brain. As we age low choline levels have been shown to impact memory and learning functions, possibly contributing to protection of the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.
Choline is also needed for the production and repair of DNA, while choline-deficiency has been shown to increase oxidative stress in the body, increase risk for cancer, have adverse effects on mood and can result in the development of liver dysfunction.
And guess what, egg yolks are the most concentrated food source of choline!
So why the confusion about eggs – especially when it comes to cholesterol and heart disease. The main reason why people are so scared of eggs is because they contain dietary cholesterol, and for years dietary cholesterol was implicated in increasing blood cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.
The recommendation for dietary cholesterol by the American Heart Association, used to be no more than 300mg per day and 200mg if you were at high risk for heart disease. Extensive research, however, did not support the role of dietary cholesterol in the development of cardiovascular disease and ultimately these guidelines were removed. It is rather a high intake of saturated and trans fats (which eggs have very little of) that causes the liver to produce more LDL (unhealthy cholesterol) which directly affects cardiovascular disease risk.
It is important to look holistically at your dietary intake and lifestyle when it comes to increasing cardiac risk. A diet that is high in saturated fats, processed foods and refined carbs as well as genetics, inflammation, smoking and alcohol can all be contributing factors to poor cardiac health.
Although one egg yolk contains a whopping 186mg of cholesterol, studies show that this form of cholesterol tends to increase both HDL cholesterol (the healthy cholesterol) and LDL cholesterol, but the overall LDL\HDL ratio remains unchanged.
Two other nifty anti-oxidants known as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are also found in egg yolks, are found in the retina of the eye and help to protect the eyes from degeneration, cataracts and damage from the sun. One study found that the consumption of two egg yolks per day for 5 weeks, in elderly subjects, reduced the risk of macular degeneration – one of the leading causes of severe irreversible vision loss.
Whole eggs also contain all nine essential amino acids and are considered to be one of the best sources of protein. They help promote muscle mass retention, are great for post-workout muscle building and provide sustained energy for the day as they contain both fats and proteins – keeping you fuller for longer.
So, eggs, including, and maybe even especially, the yolk, are rich in micronutrients, vitamins, protein and other key nutrients. Overall, they are a real asset in our diets.
If we scramble all the nutrients and their benefits together, we see that eggs can contribute to bone health and calcium absorption, they support immune function, give us and our bodies energy as well as help provide the nutrients needed for oxygen transport around the body.
If you are a person that has many risk factors for heart disease or diabetes, before you cut out eggs it may be beneficial to assess total fat and cholesterol intake from other sources and ensure those, together with other dietary and lifestyle choices, are healthy.
Does this mean you should have three eggs a day – no. But just as with anything, having eggs as part of a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet, will really get your sunny side up.
(serves 2-4; depending on how many eggs you want)
1 tin peeled cherry tomatoes
1 handful cherry tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
¼ medium red chilli
2 tricolour peppers
1-1½ teaspoons harissa paste (depending on spice tolerance)
½ cup fresh coriander (1 handful)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Finely chop the onion, chilli, garlic peppers and medium tomatoes.
2 Place a deep non-stick pan onto a heated stovetop and add the olive oil once the pan is hot.
3 Add the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté until translucent.
4 Add the harissa paste, chopped chilli, salt and pepper and stir to release the flavours.
5 Add the chopped medium tomatoes, peppers and cherry tomatoes, allowing them to sauté for about 3-4 minutes.
6 Add the tinned tomatoes and the tomato paste, mixing all the ingredients together.
7 Reduce the heat and allow all the ingredients to simmer for a further 3-4 minutes. At this point, taste the mixture to see if you need to add extra heat or seasoning.
8 Using the back of a spoon, create a well in the tomato mix into which you will crack an egg. Repeat the process for all 4 eggs, spreading them out evenly.
9 Once all the eggs are cracked, cover the pan with a lid/solid splatter screen/foil.
10 Leave the pan covered to cook the eggs and reduce the sauce. The length of time for which you do this depends on how you like your eggs done. If you like your eggs runny, reduce the sauce slightly beforehand and cook the eggs between 5-10 minutes. The white part of the egg must be cooked, while the yolk can still be soft.
11 Sprinkle the chopped coriander on top and enjoy.
Tip: I like to vary my shakshuka from a classic one, adding many different vegetables. A great tip is to make this on a weekend and throw in all your left-over vegetables whether it be celery, fennel, mushrooms or peppers.
Nourish yourself to the sunrise.
Cooked with love,
Sunrise by HM
Nourished yet? Comment on what I should write about next?
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