“EGGS R EGGS” – By Des Kelly
12 Popular Egg Myths Busted! – Are Brown Eggs More Nutritious Than White Ones?
Eggs get a bad rep, and it’s a shame. Not only are they an eggcellent source (pun very much intended) of proteins and some difficult-to-get vitamins, but are also ridiculously cheap and easy to store and prepare. Unfortunately, there are so many misconceptions and so much bad publicity surrounding eggs that it makes people believe they’re unsafe or harmful to one’s health. Realistically, though, the majority of negative experiences linked to egg consumption stem from improper use and handling. For the sake of French toast, sunny side up eggs and all the rest of delicious egg-based breakfasts, we decided to bust 12 harmful and simply untrue beliefs about eggs, both in terms of their health effects, handling, and storage.
1. You shouldn’t eat eggs if you have high cholesterol
If you were diagnosed with high cholesterol or are at risk of heart disease, chances are you were told that you should stay away from eggs. Until the recent past, this recommendation was valid, until some cutting edge medical research showed that despite containing cholesterol, eggs don’t really increase the level of cholesterol in the blood, unlike foods rich in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugar.
Dietitians generally agree that eating up to 5 eggs a week is safe for patients at risk for heart disease, but this will also depend on your complete diet so it’s best to check with your physician.
2. All eggs should be kept in the fridge
This myth is true, well, kind of… Whether or not you should refrigerate eggs actually depends on where you live. The regulations in some countries, such as the United States, mandate that all eggs should be washed before being sold, in an attempt to minimize the spread of salmonella. The regulatory bodies in other countries, on the other hand, such as the majority of European countries, strictly prohibit washing eggs, as the use of detergents affects the natural coating on the surface of the egg that protects it from bacteria.
In these countries, eggs are rarely sold refrigerated and don’t require to be kept in the fridge, whereas all American eggs must be washed and kept in the fridge. So, if you live in the U.S., you should refrigerate eggs, but if you live in the U.K., this is optional. Having said that, eggs that are sold refrigerated have to remain refrigerated at home, whether or not they have been washed, as differences in storage temperatures may cause precipitation, which, in turn, may encourage mold and bacterial growth.
3. The more vibrant the color of the yolk, the more nutritious the egg
The color of the egg yolk is directly linked to the hen’s diet. In the past, grass-fed free-range hens would produce yolks that were much brighter, almost orange in color, compared to their factory counterparts that were grain-fed. Needless to say, a better diet resulted in better quality, more nutritious eggs, as well as a bright orange color that became the hallmark of high quality.
Later, farmers discovered that the color of the yolk is correlated with how rich the hen’s diet is in carotenoids (color pigments that have a yellow-orange hue). To make their products more appealing to the consumers, many farmers started feeding their hens with special diet additives rich in carotenoids, and this practice continues to this day, so we can’t really correlate nutritional value and yolk color anymore.
4. Every egg can develop into a baby chicken
Many people believe that all eggs can turn into a baby chick, but in reality, a hen will lay eggs almost daily even without the involvement of a rooster, the resulting eggs will simply not be fertilized. Unfertilized eggs are no different in terms of nutritional value from fertilized ones, the only difference being that only a fertilized egg can develop into a chicken. The majority of store-bought eggs are unfertilized, whereas many locally-farmed eggs will probably be fertilized.
- Brown eggs are healthier than white one
There is a persistent misconception that white eggs are somehow less nutritious than brown ones, which is just blatantly wrong. Let’s start with the obvious: eggs come in more colors than white or brown and can be also blue-green or beige. This shell color, whatever it may be, is in no way correlated with the nutritious value of the actual egg and is rather a distinctive feature of a specific breed of chickens.
The possible difference in price between the two categories commonly found in stores (brown and white), in turn, is caused by the differences in the cost of farming of these different breeds and is not representative of a difference in quality.
6. Raw eggs are healthier than cooked ones
The image of an athlete gulping down raw eggs the first thing in the morning is forever ingrained in our minds (by the virtue of media). But are raw eggs better for you than cooked ones?
The answer is a straightforward “no”, for two reasons. Firstly, raw eggs can harbor salmonella, which is killed during cooking, and secondly, you will actually be able to absorb fewer nutrients from a raw egg than a cooked one. This is particularly true when it comes to protein absorption, with studies showing that by cooking an egg you can almost double the amount of protein you absorb.
7. Cage-free hens are not necessarily roaming the fields
As mentioned in one of the previous points, a healthy diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference in the quality of eggs a hen will produce (not to mention the moral aspect). This is why many consumers seek out manufacturers that make sure their chickens have plenty of space to run free.
These types of farms often carry the label “free-range” on the packaging, which shouldn’t be confused with “cage-free”. This last term is very confusing because it implies that the hens didn’t grow up in a cage and nothing else, and in reality, these cage-free poultry farms often still keep their chickens in extremely crowded and confined spaces.
8. You should always store your eggs on the designated fridge door shelf
While it may be convenient to store eggs on the fridge door, it’s not your best bet when it comes to storage time. If you use up eggs quickly, it doesn’t really matter where you store them in your fridge, but if you don’t use them up in a week or two, it’s better to store eggs deep in one of the main shelves of your fridge.
This will ensure the eggs are constantly kept at an equally low temperature, whereas storing eggs on the fridge door shelf may expose them to temperature fluctuations that can make them spoil faster.
Eating a little piece of the eggshell is dangerous to your health
We all hate it when a little speck of eggshell gets into our omelet or French toast, simply thinking about it gives me goosebumps, but some people believe that this can be dangerous to your health, which is simply untrue. Yes, swallowing a bigger piece may be dangerous, as it may injure your throat or esophagus, but a tiny speck won’t do any harm, as long as it’s cooked, that is, as both the eggshells and raw eggs can harbor salmonella.
10. Eggs past their sell-by date are not safe to eat
The sell-by date is usually stamped on the packaging of the eggs, or sometimes on the eggs themselves. It’s a date added by the manufacturer as an indication to the retailer that shows when they should start pulling the product from the shelves and isn’t meant for consumers per se.
As a consumer, you can store eggs for about a month past the sell-by date, just make sure they’re not cracked. If you’re doubting if your eggs are still fresh, you can try this trick: simply immerse the egg into the water and watch. If the egg sinks to the bottom of the dish, it’s fresh and safe to use, but if it floats, it means that it’s not the best anymore. If you crack the egg, as long as it doesn’t smell or look funky, it’s generally fine to use, just make sure to cook it through.
11. The red dots you sometimes see on eggs are a sign of fertilization
Don’t be afraid to eat an egg that has a small red dot in it. This doesn’t mean it’s fertilized or that it has gone off, it’s simply a developmental defect that caused a blood clot on the yolk during the formation of the egg. These eggs are perfectly safe to eat and just as nutritious as the rest. You can remove the dot if you wish, but you don’t have to.
12. Egg whites are the best for muscle gain and weight loss
It’s definitely true that an egg white omelet is lower in calories compared to a whole egg one. It is also true that egg whites contain no fat. However, if you choose the no-yolk route, you’ll miss out on some essential nutrients eggs typically contain, such as vitamin D and B12, as well as healthy fats and nearly 6g of protein (egg whites contain half the amount of protein, only 3g).
Proteins are essential for muscle gain, whereas vitamin deficiencies can actually make you eat more and gain more weight, so it doesn’t matter if your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, you’re better off eating the whole egg and not just the egg white.