A single egg has a nutritional profile that looks somewhat like this – it is packed with vitamin A, D, E, B1, B2, B5, B12, protein, niacin, riboflavin, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and sulphur, zinc, folic acid, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorus, choline, antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, and the goodness of good cholesterol. And yet, one egg contains only about 70 calories.
That being said, on World Egg Day let’s take a look at the importance of eggs in our diet and celebrate this truly versatile, easy-to-make food that brings flavour, nutrition, and taste on our plate without burning a hole in our pocket. Or adding kilograms to our frame.
The importance of eggs in our diet
“It is true we can get proteins from a lot of things. But eggs can give you a very good quality of protein. Not only protein, but the mineral profile of an egg is also very good. And you get all of it without consuming a lot of calories, which makes it a good snack, or a good option to include in your meals”, says Dr. Priyanka Rohtagi, Nutritionist with Apollo Hospital.
Known to be a full meal in itself, given its nutritional make-up, eggs help in the sound functioning of the immune system and the nervous system, apart from helping in the healthy development of cells and muscles. According to Rasika Parab, Head of Department, Nutrition Therapy at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, “it is advisable for everyone to consume one egg per day for a balanced diet”.
But what is it that makes egg the best source of protein?
Amongst many other antioxidants, eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin. It has been observed that lutein and zeaxanthin from eggs are better absorbed by a human body than from various plant sources. According to Rasika Parab, “the quantity of protein from a bowl of dal and from one egg is the same. What differs, however, is the quality of protein, which is much better when it comes to eggs.”
What can one replace eggs with?
It isn’t news that many people in India – whether because of religious practices, health issues or allergies – do not consume eggs. What can they then replace eggs with?
“You can get the same nutritional profile of an egg in your diet only if you combine two or more things like paneer, dal, vegetables, milk to strike the right balance. With just one source, replacing an egg becomes difficult”, says Dr Priyanka Rohtagi.
Meanwhile, Rasika Parab suggests replacing eggs with “two glasses of milk” or “paneer and dal“ but “not dal alone”.
The cholesterol question
For years, eggs were considered more of a health risk than a healthy food. This is because they were considered a high cholesterol food, so those with high cholesterol levels were advised to avoid them. “But we all know now that it is a myth. Even if an egg yolk has 300 mg of cholesterol, it can be given to people with high levels of cholesterol. It, in fact, reduces the risk of cardiac arrest”, says Parab.
Confirming this, Dr. Priyanka Rohtagi said, “Eggs do not increase your blood cholesterol directly. It is just a myth. It increases our HDL cholesterol, which otherwise is known as good cholesterol, and it is a healthy thing.”
How many eggs are safe to consume in a day?
Dr. Rohtagi believes consuming “two eggs per day is good enough. Because eggs are rich in protein, it takes time for our body to digest the complex make-up of protein. Eating a lot of protein can cause bloating and it is best if the intake is limited to two. One must not overindulge.” Even for people who have a very active lifestyle, “it isn’t advisable to consume too many eggs in a day.”
Is there a best way to consume eggs?
If you are watching your weight, it is best to eat either poached or boiled eggs. “Just make sure you never eat raw eggs, no matter what your fitness goal is. Raw eggs are highly prone to infection and never recommended. Cook your eggs”, says Parab.
Forget the apple, an egg a day might just be the perfect solution to keep the doctor at bay.