Eggs are known as the gold standard of protein, because not only do they contain all of the essential amino acids necessary to consider them “complete proteins,” but they also have the highest biological value for protein. Biological value is another scale used to measure the efficiency with which a protein can be used for growth, or how easy it is for our bodies to use the protein, but is not necessarily related to amino acid composition (a food can be a complete protein but have a slightly lower biological value than another food). Compared to all other proteins, eggs have the highest biological value, 100 on a 100 pt scale. Comparatively, milk comes in at 91 and beef at 80. Talk about a perfect protein! [i]
Here are 5 facts to know about the incredible egg:
1. An extra-large egg contains 7 grams of protein, and approximately 4 grams of that come from the white. 7 grams of protein = 1 oz, so eggs are easily portioned for perfect meals and snacks. It’s no wonder eggs are considered the gold standard when it comes to protein. This protein can be utilized efficiently by our muscles and tissues, meaning none of it goes to waste.
2. Yolks are not the enemy! Eggs caught some flack a few years ago because the yolks contain cholesterol, and it was thought that dietary cholesterol contributes greatly to serum cholesterol. We know now that saturated fat is really the true culprit, and there is not enough conclusive evidence to advise people to shy away from the nutrient-dense yolks. The American Heart Association now advises Americans to limit to 7 yolks per week. Since the whites have no fat, there is no restriction on egg white consumption. [ii]
3. In fact, the yolks do contain all of the nutrients of the egg. Egg yolks contain lutein, an antioxidant important for eye health, and vitamin D, which is important for both bone health and immunity. We all need a little extra right now! In fact, free-range or pasture-raised hens are known to lay eggs with higher vitamin D content because of their exposure to sunlight. Yolks also contain choline, which is important for metabolism and liver function as well as fetal brain development. [i]
4. Eggs are good for several weeks after the “use by” date on the carton, making them a great quarantine staple. If you’re nervous to keep your eggs that long, you can use the water test after a few weeks. Fill a cup of water and submerge an egg. If it sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh, if it sinks but stands on its point, use it ASAP. If it floats, chuck it. [iii]
5. Organic isn’t always better. While organic hens are likely fed organic feed, it doesn’t mean they’re not caged. Many farms use organic farming practices without being certified organic, and free-range hens, meaning those that are able to roam freely, lay the most nutritious eggs. Look for free-range or pasture-raised, rather than organic, when shopping for your eggs. And don’t forget, if you’re using just whites for an omelet or recipe, those nutrients are found in the yolk, so you don’t need to splurge on top quality, as even conventional eggs still get you the best bang for your buck when it comes to high-quality protein [iv].
Now that you’re up to speed with the benefits of eggs, you can start cooking some of our favorite egg-based recipes for your Passover and Easter table.
[i] Hoffman, Jay R, and Michael J Falvo. “Protein – Which is Best?.” Journal of sports science & medicine vol. 3,3 118-30. 1 Sep. 2004https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/
[ii]. American Heart Association News. “Are eggs good for you or not?” https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not
[iii] Huffstetler, Erin. “How to Tell If Eggs Are Still Good.” https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-tell-if-eggs-are-still-good-1388334
[iv]. Kühn, Julia et al. “Free-range farming: a natural alternative to produce vitamin D-enriched eggs.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 30,4 (2014): 481-4. Kühn, Julia et al. “Free-range farming: a natural alternative to produce vitamin D-enriched eggs.” Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.) vol. 30,4 (2014): 481-4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24607306/