Easter Eggs

April 2nd, 2012 - Uncategorized

Easter is nearly here and the shops are packed full of Easter Eggs. The chocolate Easter Egg is a relatively new phenomenon, since Easter Eggs were traditionally made by dying or painting ordinary hens eggs.

In earlier times, eating eggs during Lent was forbidden by the church, leading to the custom of using up all the eggs in the house to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. At Easter time, eggs were dyed red to represent the blood shed by Christ on the cross. The hard shell of the egg was seen to represent the tomb of Christ, and cracking the egg symbolised his resurrection from the dead.

Aside from being important as a symbol of new life in the springtime, eggs (the real variety that is, not the chocolate ones!) are also an inexpensive and very rich source of various nutrients, which provide numerous health benefits:

Protein

Eggs are a very good source of  high-quality protein, and contain all 9 essential amino acids. Various studies have shown that eating protein-rich foods such as eggs at breakfast time helps you to feel fuller for longer, and actually increases weight loss.

Vitamin D

Eggs are one of only very few natural foods that contain vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health, but recent research has highlighted numerous other health problems that can result from inadequate vitamin D intake including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, and various types of cancer.

The average person in this country has vitamin D levels of less than two thirds of the recommended amount, which is not really surprising, given the lack of sunshine in this country compared to other parts of the world. Eggs are therefore an eggselent (!) source of additional vitamin D.

Vitamin B12, choline and folic acid.

These nutrients are all part of the vitamin B complex, and are important for the healthy functioning of the cardiovascular system, the nervous system and the brain.

Choline, together with vitamin D and other nutrients found in eggs, is important for cancer prevention, and studies have shown that women who consume an egg a day have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Carotenoids

Egg yolks contain various carotenoids including lutein, which helps to prevent eye problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts. The carotenoids found in eggs are more readily available in the body than those from other sources.

Healthy fats

One egg contains just 5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of that is saturated fat. Egg yolks do contain cholesterol, and in the past, health experts advised people to avoid them. However recent research has shown that eating an egg a day does not increase cholesterol levels, and moderate consumption of eggs may actually help to reduce cholesterol.

Studies have also shown that there is no link between moderate egg consumption and heart disease, and in fact, regular consumption of eggs may help to prevent blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. The healthy fats in eggs may also help to reduce other inflammatory diseases.

 

If you are buying eggs, it is best to choose free-range organic eggs, which have been produced by hens that have been allowed to roam freely, given natural additive-free feed, and not treated with antibiotics. The carotenoids give egg yolks their yellow colour, and if you have ever bought free-range eggs, you will no doubt have noticed that the yolk is much more yellow in these. Free-range organic eggs are also likely to contain much higher levels of other beneficial nutrients.

Better still, why not consider keeping a few hens of your own? Provided you have a bit of space for them to roam on, they are remarkably easy to look after and cheap to feed, and you would also be surprised at just how attached you can get to them. Just 2 or 3 hens will provide you with 2 or 3 free-range organic eggs virtually every day of the year, and help you to dispose of a good proportion of your kitchen scraps.