The British Free Range Egg Producers Association have produced a comprehensive egg nutrition leaflet explaining the many valuable nutrients that can be found in just one free range egg.
Free-range eggs are an excellent source of nutrition but are we saying enough about it? There are a number of myths about the healthiness of eggs, but after building confidence following the Salmonella scare, others still need to be explained. Evidence is also increasing on the advantages of including eggs as a regular part of our diet. The leaflet in this month’s magazine highlights the health benefits of free-range eggs as a great source of protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals.
In 2012 the Department of Health analysed eggs from the UK and produced a report listing the average nutrient levels found. These have then been compared to UK Reference Nutrient Intakes, to show how much one free-range egg provides of each of our nutrient requirements.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein supplying more than 12% of an adult’s requirement. In terms of quality, egg protein is one of the best, it is highly digestible with good levels of essential amino acids. It is also a low-cost source of protein, a report in 2011 funded by the British Egg Industry Council found it to be the cheaper per 100g than chicken, fish, pork and tofu.
A medium egg contains around 70 calories, making it a good food to eat if you are trying to loose weight. In fact eggs are one of the ‘secret’ ingredients in celebrity diets. The protein content helps to create a feeling of ‘fullness’, whilst being low in fat. Some fats are good for you and eggs are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. This is mainly in the form of DHA, which contributes to normal brain function and vision.
One of the biggest anti-egg messages was that their cholesterol content was bad for you. It has been now been shown that eating eggs doesn’t significantly raise blood cholesterol. The level of saturated fat you eat has a much greater effect, leading to an increased risk of heart disease. It is for this reason that health advisors have relaxed limits on egg consumption. Eggs have relatively low saturated fat content and are a good source of B vitamins that actually help prevent heart disease.
For certain sectors of the population, eggs are a particularly good choice. The nutrient density of eggs means that infants don’t have to eat a large volume to get the nutrients they need to grow. As well as being quick to prepare, eggs are easy for children to eat. Loss of skeletal muscle can be serious issue for some older people and eating high quality source of protein can help to prevent this. Eggs can provide this as well as vitamin D, which those over 65 need more of for bone health. They also supply minerals that are important for bone, muscle and metabolic functions: calcium, magnesium and in particular phosphorus.
Eggs contain folate, which necessary for normal cell division and the structure of the nervous system. It is recommended that pregnant women consume 400mcg of folate, this has been proven to prevent neural tube defects in babies, including spina bifida. Eggs are also a great way for pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume the protein, vitamins and minerals they need. They also contain antioxidants including selenium and vitamin E, which help to support the immune system.
Eggs are a valuable component in a healthy diet. They are a nutrient dense food supplying high quality protein, along with vitamins and minerals. Promoting the health benefits of eggs is just as important for the general public as it is for the industry. This kind of information helps to quash any myths as well as encouraging individual wellbeing. Whilst further improving the image of free-range eggs can only help sales!
The leaflet is available to download on the www.lovefreerangeeggs.co.uk website