Keeping Your Eggs Healthy
When I did a walk-through of the home I now live in, I was quite worried about a patch of the backyard that was devoid of the beautiful green grass I’d seen in the front. I soon learned the previous owner raised chickens. Because I am sad that the bevy of birds that pecks at the leftover chicken feed is starting to wane, I dedicate this article to the hens I never knew. As someone who eats two hard-boiled eggs at least every other day, and huevos rancheros when I’m splurging, I appreciate hens' hard work. If their heads are still bobbing, may they lay eggs in warm nests in peace.
Egg Packaging, Storage and Shelf life
You may intuitively smell milk and check the expiration date before you pour a glass from a carton, but these steps won’t help you know whether or not your eggs are still good. Most eggs don’t carry an expiration date, but a sell-by date. This sell-by date can be no more than 30 days from its packing date. Aside from choosing the latest sell-by date for freshness, use raw eggs within 3-5 weeks at the very latest. Because eggs can pick up odors from foods in your refrigerator as well as lose moisture from air exposure, they are best kept in the carton they came in and placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator as opposed to the door. Avoid washing them as this could introduce contaminants into the egg when cracked. By the way, the color of an egg, white or brown, doesn’t determine its freshness, quality, or shelf life. So you know, hard-boiled eggs should be used within 7 days after boiling.
Eggs, Cholesterol, and Cardiovascular Disease
A serving size is one egg at only 70 calories, 70 mg of sodium, and almost no carbohydrates, so in moderation, an egg is ok. However, two or three a day could bust the 300 mg of daily cholesterol recommended by the American Heart Association. But, don't think having an omelet will raise your risk of heart disease. Because the levels of total and LDL cholesterol are borderline high or high above 150 mg/dL or 200 mg/dL respectively, people may mistake the amount of cholesterol in a whole egg, at over 200 mg, as problematic. Some wrongly switched to egg whites to avoid the cholesterol. But, research has shown dietary consumption of cholesterol has little to do with a person’s blood cholesterol level, a major determinant of your risk of heart disease. In fact, a recent Spanish study of over 14,000 found no association between egg consumption and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
The allure of using egg substitutes goes beyond cutting calories. Some use egg substitutes to cut fat, but keep in mind that eggs have a great total fat to saturated fat ratio of about 2:1 at 5 total fat grams to 1.5 saturated fat grams. Lowering saturated fat has been associated with a lowered risk for heart disease. Other than that, egg substitutes are made mostly of egg whites. This leaves the nutritional value of the yolk out, which includes about 6 grams of protein, and an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins A, D, E, and K, minerals such as zinc, folate, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium, as well as omega-3s. The good thing about egg substitutes are that they are pasteurized, killing the salmonella bacteria that naturally occurs in raw egg yolks.
To learn about reducing your risk of Salmonella from eggs click here.
How do you enjoy eggs?