Making the Most of Cheap Eggs
It's egg season! We tend to forget, because of battery egg farming techniques, that eggs really are a seasonal food - kept in natural lighting conditions, hens lay far fewer eggs in the winter, and more in the spring and summer. That's why eggs are associated with Easter: They've been a symbol of spring since - well, forever.
Between the increased egg yield, and grocery stores running specials for folks planning to dye eggs, eggs are dirt-cheap these days. Right this very minute, a dozen large eggs are on sale at my local Kroger for 66c. (A month or so back, Marsh had medium eggs - common in the early spring - 3 cartons for a buck! I bought 18 cartons!)
With prices like this, it's a great time to eat eggs, not just for breakfast, but lunch, dinner, and even for snacks. Eggs are endlessly versatile, not only lending themselves to a wide variety of flavors, but letting you create a number of different textures, too. For these reasons, I never get tired of eggs. (As I write this, I have a cheese omelet sitting happily in my tum.)
Yet years of anti-egg propaganda have left many people afraid of eggs. Indeed, unlimited egg consumption is one of the things that the anti-low-carb forces brandish as a weapon against us - "All those eggs! You'll give yourself high cholesterol! You'll get heart disease!"
It's important that you know that the whole cholesterol theory of heart disease causation is in question. A number of other factors appear to be far more important, with systemic inflammation being at the top of the list. (It's also important for you to know that low cholesterol is dangerous. Total cholesterol under 170 is associated with increased mortality, especially from cancer, stroke, and - believe it or not - violence and suicide. After all, your brain is very rich in cholesterol.)
We need cholesterol. It's essential for every cell in our bodies. Cholesterol insulates nerve fibers, maintains cell walls, produces vitamin D, various hormones, and digestive juices. If we eat less cholesterol, we make it in our liver. If we eat more, we make less. It's a clever natural balance.
Too, in most of the world, cholesterol as high as 225-240 is considered normal. Maybe I'm a whack-job conspiracy nut, but I suspect that American standards for cholesterol keep getting adjusted downward to create a market for cholesterol-lowering drugs. That's just me, though.
But do eggs jack up your blood cholesterol levels? No doubt eggs contain cholesterol - about 200 mgs apiece. But there's little evidence that eating cholesterol increases coronary risk. A 1994 study in the Journal of Internal Medicine looked at 12 men and 12 women, each eating 2 eggs per day for 6 weeks. Their total cholesterol did rise by 4% - but their HDL (good) cholesterol rose by 10% - meaning that their coronary risk had decreased. In an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at the Framingham study - the biggest, longest lasting study of heart disease to date. They found no relationship between egg consumption and coronary disease. And The Journal of Nutrition ran an article a couple of years back showing that even men who had an abnormally strong response to dietary cholesterol stayed within National Cholesterol Education Program Guidelines when adding 640 mgs of egg cholesterol per day to their diets. That's three eggs a day - coincidentally, the number I eat most days. If three eggs a day doesn't negatively affect even those who have an abnormally strong response to dietary cholesterol, what the heck is anyone worrying about?
But what do eggs contain aside from cholesterol? All sorts of fabulous things. Eggs are a terrific source of protein, of course, with 6 or 7 grams each, depending on their size. Indeed, egg protein is of such good quality that it's the standard against which all other proteins are measured. Eggs do contain a little carbohydrate; about a half a gram apiece. You'll get somewhere between 65 and 75 calories.
Just one egg will give you 19% of your iodine, 13% of your riboflavin, 10% of the antioxidant mineral selenium, and 8% of your vitamin A (and that's preformed A, which is much more easily absorbed and used than the provitamin A in vegetables.) You'll get 7% of your B12, 5% of your folacin, 4% of your iron, 3% of your B6, copper, and zinc, 2% of your calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Eggs are a terrific source of sulphur, which makes your nails and hair strong and healthy (and grow faster!) Sulphur also makes your connective tissue strong and flexible, and is used by your liver in the process of removing toxins from your body.
Eggs are also one of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D. I say "natural" because of course the vitamin D in milk has been added artificially, not that that's a bad thing. Mostly we're supposed to make vitamin D in our own bodies, by exposing our skin to the sun. But in this sun-phobic da