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How could anyone hate an egg? Yet, 20 years ago, the dietary naysayers decided that the cholesterol in eggs was translating to artery-clogging cholesterol in the blood — and eggs splattered onto the no-no list.
Finally, some scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at a population of 117,000 nurses who had been followed for eight to 14 years and found no difference in heart disease risk between those who ate one egg a week and those who ate more than one egg a day.
Another study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that eggs tended to satisfy obese and overweight subjects more than a bagel breakfast with an equal calorie count. Eggs might even be a good diet food!
Nutritionists Weigh In
“I am very happy with eggs,” Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, director of nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health, tells WebMD. “Eggs have a high nutritional value, an excellent quality of protein, are only 70 to 80 calories each, and are not high in fat.”
Patricia Kendall, PhD, RD, professor and food and nutrition specialist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, tells WebMD she agrees that the cholesterol in eggs should not put them on the roster of the forbidden.
On the Food Guide Pyramid put out by the government, eggs are part of the protein-rich food group of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. Two to three servings from this group are recommended each day. One egg would be equal to one-third to one-half of a serving from this group.
The American Heart Association says that one egg a day is acceptable, but to keep in mind the cholesterol in that egg along with the other foods that you eat in the day. Those with heart disease, diabetes, or a high level of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol should probably choose a small or medium egg vs. larger ones which have more cholesterol. Remember that egg whites have no cholesterol.
A large egg represents less than 4% of the daily calorie intake of a person eating 2,000 calories a day; it provides 10% of a person’s daily recommended protein, and valuable iron, B vitamins, and minerals, including the folate recommended for pregnant women.
People who eat eggs have been shown to have better diets, perhaps — scientists speculate — because they tend to eat breakfast, especially eggy ones. “Eggs have both fat and protein,” Kendall adds. “These increase a sense of fullness.”
Of course, questions have also been raised about food-borne illnesses involving eggs. One out of 20,000 eggs may be contaminated with salmonella, bacteria that can cause extreme intestinal distress. The secret to avoiding this is to cook eggs thoroughly, Kendall says. Eggs should also be stored appropriately in the refrigerator and promptly eaten after cooking.
“It’s better not to have the yolk runny,” Kava agrees. “The extreme elderly and immunosuppressed should be extra careful or not eat eggs.”
Kendall says you can even get eggs that are pasteurized to kill bacteria inside the shells. To avoid hard cooking, the heat levels are kept low, but are still effective.
Benefits of Eggs
Pluses outweigh minuses:
- Eggs are easy to prepare in a number of different ways. They even make recipes work by thickening things.
- They have a long refrigerator shelf life.
- They are relatively cheap.
- They are delicious!
“An egg is no longer just an egg,” Kendall says.
Go to any upscale food store or even the local supermarket and you have choices, and not just the sizes.
- “You have your cage-free, free-range, or free-roaming,” Kendall notes. This refers to the way the chickens (yes, they come first) are raised. “People got the idea that letting chickens wander around and eat the occasional bug was more humane, and because the birds were exposed to less ammonia, made the eggs taste better.” Gourmets, in fact, rhapsodize over the depth of flavor of free-range eggs. On one web site, an egg lover remarked: “My neighbor’s chickens are feasting on grasshoppers and I always look forward to the eggs he brings. They are huge with bright golden yolks that stand high above thick whites.”
- Lower-cholesterol eggs are produced, Kendall says, by feeding the chickens a vegetarian diet and oils such as canola oil. “A large egg can have 300 milligrams of cholesterol,” she notes, “and this sort of feeding can bring that down to 200 milligrams.”
Omega-3 eggs are also being engineered. Chickens are fed flax-seed, marine algae, and fish oil, with the intent to increase the egg content of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Brown eggs, beige, even gray or lavender, are trendy now. This is not a dye job, but a function of the type of chicken, Kendall explains. White-shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes. Brown-shelled eggs come from chickens with red feathers and red ear lobes. Do different colored eggs taste better? The answer lies in the mouth of the omelet eater.
- Those eggs in a carton, already broken and mixed, are another category on the shelves. Sometimes, Kendall says, these are considered low cholesterol because they are all whites with a little yellow coloring thrown in. Read the labels, nutritionists advise.
Kava says she is very distressed by the “demonization” of eggs. Her mother had a serum cholesterol of 202 and was told by her doctor’s nurse to cut down on eggs.
“This infuriated me!” Kava exclaims. “Eggs are great for healthy older people, high in protein, easy to chew.”Read More
Anyone who has ever been on a diet has probably heard over and over again that they should limit their intake of simple carbohydrates while it is ok to eat a diet rich in foods containing complex carbohydrates. The unfortunate thing is that many of us just don’t know what the difference is and are probably asking ourselves, “Exactly what are complex carbohydrates?” The scientific explanation is that they are complex compounds of three or more sugar molecules also called polysaccharides. However, that doesn’t tell us very much other than they are a bunch of simple sugars bonded together to form a compound. So exactly what are complex carbohydrates in relation to being healthy and where can we find them?
Slow Burn Carbs
Sometimes you will hear complex carbohydrates referred to as ‘slow burn’ carbs. This is because, unlike simple carbs that immediately convert into glucose, complex carbohydrates break down much slower and as a result, release energy to the body in a steady flow. Simple carbohydrates convert instantly to glucose which is dangerous on two levels. First of all, your body can only handle so much sugar at once so you get spikes in the bloodstream. However, those sugar levels also fall just as rapidly as they rise which leads to crash and burn.
Secondly, and probably more importantly in terms of weight control, excess simple carbs are more easily stored by the body as fat cells. From a biological standpoint this would be great because if those fat cells needed to be called upon for energy at some later time they would be available. The problem is that when you eat too much simple sugar and store too many fat cells you will have more than you need and obesity becomes a real threat.
Benefits of Complex Carbohydrates
One of the things you should know about complex carbohydrates is that dietary fiber is comprised of them. If you think about it for a moment you will see that this is beneficial on several levels. Although we are probably asking “What are complex carbohydrates?” because we want to lose weight, there is more to it than that. Not only do they help to prevent too much sugar from being released into the bloodstream but they are heart healthy carbs as well! We are well aware of the fact that diets rich in fiber can help to lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream but there are other benefits to fiber/complex carbs as well.
Diets rich in fiber help to keep us ‘regular’ which also promotes greater intestinal health and, in turn, helps to guard against a number of illnesses including colorectal cancer. Immunity is strengthened because of the close proximity of many lymph glands to the intestinal tract. If food doesn’t move through the intestines quickly and sits there as a breeding ground for all sorts of toxins, our immunity suffers. What are complex carbohydrates? They are a great way to stay healthy, not to mention all the dietary fats they help remove from the body before they can be stored as fat cells!
Foods Rich in Complex Carbohydrates
As you have seen, foods rich in dietary fiber are also rich in complex carbohydrates. This would include most, if not all, whole grains such as oats, bran, brown rice, buckwheat, barley, millet, rye, whole wheat, cracked wheat (bulgur) and believe it or not, popcorn. But whole grains are not the only foods high in complex carbohydrates as there is a list of vegetables that are also a great source of fiber/complex carbs.
Although you might not exactly think of a potato as being a vegetable, it falls within that food group and is a great source of complex carbs. Most of the root veggies such as yams are also rich in fiber. However, so too are certain other vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, lima beans, kidney beans, peas, navy beans and peppers. Many fruits are also rich in complex carbohydrates but unfortunately also contain a good deal of simple sugar as well (fructose) which isn’t always a good thing.
So then, what are complex carbohydrates? While it may not be a complete answer, the best way to think about them is that they are slow burning carbs found in high fiber foods. They benefit your health on several levels among which are sustainable levels of energy, increased digestion and immunity, heart health and their ability to help you maintain a healthy weight. What are complex carbohydrates? In plain English, they are good for you.Read More
When we think of getting our five fruits and veg a day, we often tend to think of all the usual suspects – apples, bananas, oranges or perhaps a pear or a peach if we’re feeling adventurous. However, focusing only on these fruits is a mistake seeing as how many benefits some of the more tropical fruits can offer us. Case in point: papaya fruit – which is one of the richest sources of nutrients and has a range of powerful health benefits. Here we will look into the papaya fruit in more detail so that you might consider including it in your next shop.
What Is Papaya?
Papaya is actually a little unbranched tree around 5-10 meters tall that grows in the tropics of the Americas. It is notable for its spirally arranged leaves which are 50-70 centimeters. The fruit is cultivated by local people as a breakfast fruit. In Mexico it was cultivated as long ago as before the Mesoamerican classical cultures. In India it is known for its medicinal properties.
Papaya fruit is rich in nutrients and carries a range of amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. These include calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins C, E, A and B complex. This makes it a very rich source of minerals and ensures it is useful for strengthening the bones, preventing muscle cramping, strengthening muscle contractions, increasing energy and mood and more. If you eat the seeds as well then these are also very healthy and contain essential fatty acids and proteins. Despite being rich in nutrients, it has very few calories and almost no cholesterol. The high content of vitamin A makes it useful for maintaining the mucus membranes and this has lead to its being used as a remedy for a range of sinus conditions.
Papaya fruit is great for digestion being rich in fiber as well as the compounds chymopapain and papain which are believed to aid in digestion. The concentration however varies depending on the fruit. The pulp and flesh of the fruit are also very easily digestible making them great for people who are experience digestion difficulties.
The high concentration of vitamin C as well as phytonutrients makes it a good source of antioxidants. It actually contains more vitamin C than lemons or oranges which makes it generally effective in boosting the immune system and preventing everything from colds to cancers.
Caution: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to the fruit. This is particularly the case in those who have allergies to latex. Unripe papaya fruit should be avoided by pregnant women due to the content of carpaine and latex.Read More