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Everything You Need To Know About Eggs

Everything You Need To Know About Eggs
Reading Time: 8 minutesEggs are a staple food item throughout the world, whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can scramble them, hard boil them, cook them sunny sun up, or have them over hard. Whatever your preference, they pack quite the nutritional punch of vitamins, minerals, and protein. Unlike other breakfast food items, or any food items for that matter, eggs contain one ingredient: eggs. When you think of protein, you think of high price tag items like expensive nuts, meat, and protein powders. The egg is the least expensive protein source you can buy, and it is versatile too!

Egg Fun Facts

  • “Double-yolked eggs are often laid by young hens whose egg production cycles are not yet completely synchronized, or by hens which are old enough to produce extra large-sized eggs.
  • Each of the roughly 300 million laying birds in the U.S. produces from 250 to 300 eggs a year. In total, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs a year, about 10% of the world supply. About 60% of the eggs produced are used by consumers, about 9% are used by the foodservice industry.
  • Nearly 200 breeds and varieties of chickens have been established worldwide, but only a few are economically important as egg producers. Most laying hens in the U.S. are Single-Comb White Leghorns.
  • Eggs have all 9 essential amino acids. Seems like a lot but remember – they ARE essential.” [1]
  • “To tell if an egg is raw or hard-cooked, spin it! If the egg spins easily, it is hard-cooked but if it wobbles, it is raw.
  • If an egg is accidentally dropped on the floor, sprinkle it heavily with salt for easy clean up.
  • Eggs age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator.
  • To produce one egg, it takes a hen 24-26 hours.” [2]
  • “Only 1 of every 20,000 eggs might contain the bacteria salmonella. So, the likelihood that an egg might contain it is extremely small.” [3]
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Egg History/Mythology

There is an ongoing argument, which came first, the chicken or the egg? We still will never know the exact answer, but we do know how the egg first got its popularity and how eggs are shuffled throughout the world.

According to Incredible Egg,

“East Indian history indicates that wild jungle fowl were domesticated as early as 3200 BC. Historians also note that the fowl were eaten more often than the eggs, since the eggs were saved to hatch to keep the fowl in supply. Egyptian and Chinese records show that fowl were laying eggs for man in 1400 BC.” [4]

Eggs were predominantly popular in Asia, and they were said to have travelled over to the Americas in Columbus’s ship when he discovered the continent. Throughout the world, there are over 200 different breeds of chickens, but not all of them actually produce eggs to eat. It is up to the hens to lay both the eggs in which more chickens are produced as well as the ones that are delicious food. In the earlier days around the 1900’s, many families raised chickens in their backyard as a supply for fresh eggs. Anything that was left over went to the local farmers markets, where business eventually ended up booming.

There was quite the experimentation that went on regarding how to keep the hens alive for longer periods of time, by moving them indoors and outdoors, as well as creating them optimal housing for better living conditions. No more predators or weather threats due to proper housing meant a larger production of eggs, as well as more money being made at the markets. More optimization occurred when hen houses started to add in automatic belts to shuffle the eggs out once they were laid. This sped up the process of hen production, which also meant more money for the farmer who was raising the hens.

Birds and reptiles lay eggs, and they are consumed by humans too in many parts of the world. The most popular however is the chicken egg, and it is still, and probably will always be, the egg that is mass-produced the most. They are the most versatile with deviled eggs being a popular appetizer or hard boiled eggs being a great go to lunch option for many people.

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Egg Nutritional Facts

There are so many different nutritional facts when it comes to the simple egg. According to American Egg Board, “A large egg has 4.5 grams of fat, only 7 percent of the daily value. Only one-third (1.5) grams is saturated fat and 2 grams are monounsaturated fat.” It also says that one large egg has about 70 calories. [5] They are loaded with healthy amounts of vitamin B, D, iodine, and selenium. Don’t just bank on the egg whites to give you all of the nutrients you need, because the yolk itself is loaded with choline and iron, which are essential to health and wellness.

Along with the current list of vitamins already spoken about, the small egg also has vitamins like A and E, as well as biotin, phosphorus, and folic acid. You would not think that a food item so small and with such minimal calories could pack such a huge punch in the nutritional department, but it goes above and beyond. [6] Biotin is essential to a properly functioning body, as it keeps the nervous functions going and it also aids the body in metabolizing protein and breaking down carbohydrates. [7]

Folic acid is also a key player in a person’s overall health, especially in pregnant women. Even before a woman becomes pregnant, she is supposed to get adequate amounts of folic acid to protect her baby from neural tube defects as well as spina bifida. If you are pregnant, there is no better food to eat in the morning than eggs! The amount of protein it provides, as well as the vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, is hard to come by in such a cheap food item.

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Egg Health Benefits

In the past, there was some controversy surrounding the health benefits of eggs, due to cholesterol levels appearing high. But the controversy was squashed in 2013 when a study was done regarding heart attacks and the consumption of eggs. [8] Not only are they fantastic for your body, they are healthy for your heart. According to Live Science, “Every single B vitamin is found in eggs, as is a complete range of amino acids, making eggs a complete protein. High-quality protein helps build muscles and allows people to feel full longer and stay energized, which can help them maintain a healthy weight.” [9]

They also state, “A 2013 study published in the journal Lipids showed that eating whole eggs actually increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and allowed the HDL molecules to function more effectively. HDL cholesterol encourages removal of LDL (bad) cholesterol, so the more of it you have, the better, according to the Mayo Clinic.” This serves a strong message to those who were wondering about the safety factors of consuming eggs and watching your cholesterol levels at the same time.

According to WebMD,

“The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients, like lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. And brain development and memory may be enhanced by the choline content of eggs.” [12]

The benefits stretch from one end of the globe to the other, and help people of all ages, races, and ethnicities, which is why this is a must in your daily diet.

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Egg Varieties

Upon entering the dairy aisle at the grocery store, you are given about twenty different options regarding which eggs are the best to actually buy. After all of the labels, colors, and prices, it could leave you feeling very confused. So which eggs are the best, and why are they the right option for you? Be aware of keywords like: Cage Free, Free Range, Pasture Raised, and Grain Fed. They are all different and they all offer up a different set of nutritional values that might be of interest to you.

Cage Free

When you think of large commercially raised chickens that lay eggs in a factory for production, you should think cheapest eggs at the supermarket. These chickens live in cages for most if not all of their lives. When you see “Cage Free” on a label, it is implying that there is a large warehouse of chickens roaming free. They are most likely not outside. The label “Cage Free” does not give you any insight to what the chickens are eating on a daily basis. [13]

Free Range

Egg cartons that are labeled “Free Range” give their hens the option to range both indoors and outdoors. They do not stay outside due to the threats of predators and weather, which could consequently inhibit production. The term “Free Range” does not give you any insight to how the chickens are eating unless there is an “omega 3” or “grain free” stamp which implies the feed is specific to these needs.

Pasture Raised

According to MSU, “UFL Extension also defines pasture-raised as hens kept in movable chicken coops that are rotated around a field. The coop keeps the birds safe from predation and the elements but allows the birds access to different areas of the field. Pasture-raised birds may consume small insects as well as vegetation growing where the coop is located.” [13]

So what are the nutritional differences between the different eggs to choose from at the grocery store, or even your local farmers market? According to Cliff Seruntine, “After decades of groceries and commercial egg producers telling us there were no differences, Mother Earth News Magazine hired an independent lab to analyze the eggs. Turns out free range, organic eggs are rich in carotene, HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and numerous beneficial amino acids, enzymes, and minerals as well as high quality protein and even antioxidants. In fact, a true free-range, organic egg is like a capsule of most everything the body needs.” [14]

You can visibly see the color difference in the yolk between your $1.99 set of white colored eggs at the grocery store versus the farm raised organic eggs you might find at the farmers market. The yolks in a healthy and nutritious egg are a dark orange color making it rich in vitamins and minerals. The other eggs are a yellow colored yolk, which might imply a lack of vitamins and minerals in the egg quality. Back Roads Living says there are major nutritional differences between a farm fresh egg and a store bought one. There is “1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta carotene in farm fresh eggs.” [15]

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Egg Uses

Do you know how to boil an egg or, better yet, hard boil an egg? Not many people would think twice about this skill, but some people simply do not know. There are two types of eggs in this category; hard boiled eggs and soft boiled eggs. When hard boiling an egg, it is best to cover the eggs first in cold water, and then let the water come to a boil. Once the water is boiling and the eggs are cooking, simply take the pan away from the heat and continue to let the eggs cook until the water cools. If you like a softer yolk, simply pull the eggs out of the water sooner so they are less cooked on the inside.

When it comes time to peel the eggs, it can be a tricky task if not done right. The best way to peel an egg happens before you even submerge them into the water. The older the egg is, the easier it will be to peel once it has boiled. Once the water has cooked the egg all of the way through, simply take the eggs out one at a time and slightly crack the shell. Submerge them back into cold water for a more effortless peeling process. [16]

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Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs Recipe

By: The Kitchn

Makes 6 eggs

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, cold from the fridge
  • Cold water
  • Ice

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Timer
  • Slotted spoon
  • Bowl

Instructions

  1. Place 6 cold eggs in a saucepan and fill with cold water, covering the eggs by an inch.
  2. Set the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil, uncovered. The water should come to a full, rolling boil.
  3. As soon as the water comes to a boil, remove the pan from heat and cover the pan. Don’t forget about the pan on the stove and let the eggs boil for too long or they will overcook!
  4. Leave the eggs in the covered pan for the right amount of time. How long? Depends on whether you want soft-boiled or hard-boiled eggs. Here’s how long each will take:
    • For runny soft-boiled eggs (barely set whites): 3 minutes
    • For slightly runny soft-boiled eggs: 4 minutes
    • For custardy yet firm soft-boiled eggs: 6 minutes
    • For firm yet still creamy hard-boiled eggs: 10 minutes
    • For very firm hard-boiled eggs: 15 minutes
  5. After your selected time is up, remove the cooked eggs from the pan with a slotted spoon and tap each gently on the countertop to crack the shell in a few places. Skip this step if your eggs are very soft-boiled with runny yolks or if you’re planning to dye your eggs for Easter.
  6. Fill a bowl with ice water. Transfer the eggs to the bowl and leave them there for at least 1 minute.
  7. When ready to eat, peel the egg and enjoy.
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