Eggs: A Perfect Protein
Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Spring is a wonderful time to rediscover eggs. Eggs are a fabulous food, packed with protein (approx. 6 grams) and a wide array of vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin D, B2, B5, B12 and folate) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and selenium). This well-rounded food contributes to eye health and brain health. Eggs are also noted for having a high cholesterol content. Cholesterol is necessary for cell wall integrity, formation of hormones and processing of fats among other health benefits. Of late, dietary restrictions on egg consumption has been loosened due to studies recognizing differences between dietary cholesterol vs. cholesterol produced by our body. As stated by Julie Corliss, editor of the Havard Medical School Heart newsletter, "Only about 20% of the cholesterol in your bloodstream comes from the food you eat. Your body makes the rest."1 Research findings suggest that a single egg daily does not compromise healthy adults for risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke. By contrast, those individuals that are diabetic need to seek advisement as studies are currently unclear as to safety of dietary cholesterol consumption. 2
To boil the perfect egg, place eggs in a pot and cover with an inch of water. You can add a pinch of salt (this raises the boiling temperature and minimizes cracking). Bring pot to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and cover pot for 10-12 minutes. When time is up, run cold water over eggs to cease cooking process. Refrigerate hard-boiled eggs within two hours and consume within one week.3
There is no difference between brown and white eggs, other than the color of the shell. Genes are the determinant of what color egg a chicken lays. What is more important to pay attention to is the labeling. Food labeling of eggs in the carton is very vague and confusing and most food companies prefer it that way. When shopping for eggs it is important to be aware of the many marketing terms used on the cartons. Whole eggs are regulated by the FDA, however, if the egg is cracked or used in another product regulation falls under the USDA.
The following are some terms you may see when shopping for whole eggs:
Organic - Unless USDA marked, this label is not guaranteed. This label is to insure that chickens are fed organic feed.
• no antibiotics
• no growth hormones
• no pesticides
• no fertilizers from synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge
• no bioengineering
• no ionizing radiation
• not fed GMO feed
Unless listed as 100% Organic, you need to assume it is less. USDA Certified Organic is to meet 95% organic.
Natural means minimally processed and free of synthetic dyes, coloring, flavorings and preservatives. These foods may still contain such ingredients as high fructose corn syrup and GMOs. The term is largely unregulated by the USDA for most foods except meat, poultry, and egg products. Foods containing meat, poultry, or eggs must be minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients in order to be labeled as “natural”. However, these animals may be given antibiotics, growth hormone and fed GMO feed.
The following terms are used to describe the living conditions and/or the food of the chickens:
Cage Free - This simply means that they are not confined to cages and does not indicate access to outdoors. They are in an enclosed facility with free access to water and food. It does not indicate the quality of the shelter.
Free Range - The USDA term to describe that the chickens are provided a covered shelter but are free to venture outdoors and are given unlimited access to water and food. The key word is access. Chickens may or may not spend time outdoors.
Pasture Raised - This is the most ideal, but not clearly specified. It is term used to indicate animals that live primarily outdoors and feed on what they find in nature, plants and seeds, bugs and worms. Chickens are NOT vegetarians as they instinctively eat bugs and worms.
Certified Humane - is a designation earned by companies/farms that agree to raise and handle their farm animals allowing them to express natural behaviors, have unrestricted movement and eat foods that have NO antibiotics, hormones or animal-by-products. This certification is third party verified.
Other terms you may see on the carton are following:
Vegetarian Fed - This likely means they are fed GMO corn & soy. As stated earlier, chickens are NOT vegetarians as they instinctively eat bugs and worms.
No Hormones - This is to indicate that no hormones added for animal growth/development.
No Antibiotics - Chickens living under stress confined to cages and batterys are prone to illness and injury.
I hope this provides some clarity to interpreting the labels on the egg cartons. Author, journalist and activist, Michael Pollan, aptly reminds us when looking at food and our conventional food system that we vote with our fork when it comes to our food quality, agricultural sustainability, food company transparency and the humane treatment of animals. It is true that organic eggs are more expensive than conventional eggs but for 1 less coffee out a week you get a dozen organic eggs and know that you are contributing to a healthier food chain.
2. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999;281:1387-94.
Disclaimer: This website blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek professional medical advice as needed.