Finally, the welcome signs of spring are here: lighter nights, shoots nudging through the soil, and colorful plastic and foil-covered chocolate eggs all over the stores.
By Lee Sandford
Finally, the welcome signs of spring are here: lighter nights, shoots nudging through the soil, and colorful plastic and foil-covered chocolate eggs all over the stores. Eggs are an ancient symbol of fertility and rebirth and, as we know, in Christianity are associated with Easter. In Scotland, Easter Sunday means a walk up a hill to roll your decorated eggs back down it, symbolizing the rolling of the stone away from Jesus’ tomb.
Even apart from being lobbed down rocky Scottish mountains, the humble egg has had a bumpy ride over the decades in terms of health associations. In the 1950s, once eggs were no longer rationed in Britain, people were encouraged to “Go to work on an egg” in a famous marketing campaign, so successful that the phrase came to mind immediately for this article, even though I wasn’t born until the 70s.
There, and Stateside, eggs were considered an easy, inexpensive, and healthy diet staple. Then came purported associations with increased blood cholesterol and heart disease, and the risk of salmonella, and the egg became a dietary villain.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal prescription for what we should eat, first published in 1977, warned against food high in dietary cholesterol, like eggs and shrimp. However, by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, copious studies showed there is no connection between cholesterol consumed in food and levels of cholesterol in the blood. The main culprit is instead saturated fat.
In the UK, the guidelines demonizing eggs were reversed in 2009 (leading to rising sales and a $80 million boost to the UK food economy). In the U.S., the guidelines were reissued (as they are every five years) just last month, and, as expected, eggs are safely back on the U.S. family grocery list.
Here are a few of the reasons “happiness is egg-shaped” (another phrase stolen from the old marketing campaigns).
Low in calories, high in good stuff
An egg has just 70-85 calories, but its protein is considered to be the highest quality protein available to us, providing the right balance of amino acids for human requirements. There are also over 11 essential vitamins and minerals in an egg.
For eye health, don’t skip the yolk.
The nutrients contained in the yolk are key components in the human eye and consuming them preserves good eyesight and prevents vision loss.
Study after study score the egg high on the satiety chart. People feel fuller calorie-for-calorie on an egg, and therefore eat less in subsequent meals and snacks.
An egg breakfast keeps you alert.
In a 2011 study, Cambridge University researchers looked at how nutrients affect the brain cells that keep us awake. The protein content of egg whites activates these cells and triggers the release of stimulants that keep us alert. Conversely, a sugary breakfast blocks the release of the same stimulants, leading to lethargy and those drowsy working-day slumps.
Good for blood pressure
Recent studies have shown that a substance found in egg whites is as successful in lowering blood pressure as low doses of Captopril, a common blood pressure medication. We are always encouraged to start with our diet for health issues, and in this case it’s actually been shown to do the job of drugs.
In the late 1990s, the British TV chef, Delia Smith, who is a national institution, released her book and series “How to Cook” and literally instructed us how to boil an egg. Some criticized her for condescension, yet egg sales increased by 10% and the omelet pan she recommended went from annual sales of 200 to 90,000, leading to new jobs at the small company that produced them. So, courtesy of Delia online, above is her method for a perfect soft-boiled egg.