What a legendary weekend. While battling through a substantial amount of head congestion I chose to address all 80+ of my graduation announcements. There is nothing quite like formally addressing piles of crisp ivory envelopes to really make a twenty something single girl pathetically assess where she is in her life. I was discussing my ‘woman on the verge’ moment with an older female adult, explaining I need a textbook for the next chapter of my life. She looked me dead in the eye and replied, “Kimberly, there is one.” Thinking she is about reference a Chicken Noodle Soup book, I smiled politely and replied “Oh?” “Well, the Twilight books of course!” was her disturbing response. Really? That’s my life’s textbook. An angst ridden teen romance novel revolving around a human, a vampire, and a werewolf? Is the Wizard of Oz my retirement plan? If so, those Munchkins need to have one hell of a 401K, because I am not picking up a second job after 65.
In an effort to distract myself from this obnoxiously classic distress, I had breakfast with an old friend from high school. As we sat in our laminated booth, I skimmed the menu in hopes of finding some killer oatmeal. While I glanced over the egg dishes, I noticed there was not one but three egg white breakfast entrees. She asked me what I planned to order and upon informing her, she responded, “Oh, you mean you’re not getting the egg white omelet?” Some days I really curse my major. When people assume you’re the food police, they also expect you to abide by the law. When did egg whites become the gold standard of breakfast eating?
In a (nut) shell eggs are high quality protein with a minimal price tag. As a student of nutrition, it’s discouraging to see such a wonderful food wrongfully framed as “unhealthy”. I don’t like putting foods into the dreaded off-limits category. I tend to believe it sets one up for failure. A day is going to come when I want that deep-fried Oreo at the State Fair and God as my witness, I will not be denied.
Years ago, numerous health experts preached that eggs should be avoided. Now, many seem stuck on the notion that eggs are bad for us. They’re even being used as a weapon on that boy with the hair. All he’s trying to do is put on a good show, cut the prepubescent kid some slack. But I digress. For those of you who believe eggs are “unhealthy”, I’m here to tell you that label is a misnomer. Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin A, riboflavin and iron. They are also a complete protein (contain all 9 essential amino acids). One egg or two egg whites are equal to one ounce of protein.
What I believe is responsible for eggs’ bad image, is the cholesterol containing yolk. Ahhh she said the word cholesterol! Honey, get me my box of Cheerios, ASAP! Cholesterol is not a dietary essential. We do not need to eat it because our bodies are perfectly capable of making their own cholesterol. It’s recommended that in order to decrease the risk of heart disease, we need to limit our daily cholesterol consumption to 300mg. One egg contains 213mg. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that after one egg, you’re almost to your limit of cholesterol for the day.
If I eat an egg yolk in the morning (or at lunch or dinner, I am a college student after all), you better believe I’m not going to track and compute my cholesterol consumption for the rest of the day. I have way better things to do with my time and brainpower. However, I am also aware of the other cholesterol containing foods I shovel into my mouth. Only animal products contain cholesterol (milk, cheese, fish, butter, beef, lamb, etc.). This is the reason I laugh when I see a jar of peanut butter labeled cholesterol free. Like the manufacturers have performed this big feat in removing cholesterol from their plant-based product.
The National Cancer Institute has a list of the top food sources of cholesterol the US population consumes (2005-2006). I was first going to put this in as a table, but it was way too imposing. The top 5 are as follows:
- Eggs and egg mixed dishes
- Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
- Beef and beef mixed dishes
- Regular cheese
- The diet of the chickens can be altered to manipulate the components of the egg. This is why you see omega-3 eggs (usually achieved by feeding the hens flax-seed).
- Cage-free eggs are laid by hens raised on the floor of a building instead of in cages.
- Free-range eggs are laid by hens that are raised outside during the day, but in a barn at night.