This much maligned foodstuff really should be enjoyed

The Good Life Letter 

9th September 2016

  • Are they in or out of the health hokey cokey?
  • Time to explode some misguided myths
  • A warming end to our story – and all the excuses you need
What came first, the advice to eat eggs or not?

In a recent article in the Daily Express a nutritionist listed six key foods which help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, chief amongst them were eggs.

Since I began writing the newsletter this one food has been in and out of the headlines as being a superfood or a scourge of healthy living.

Cited as being full of unhealthy cholesterol, lacking in essential vitamins and produced by birds that only eat antibiotic-laced feed are just a few of the recent attacks on this wholesome part of our diet.

But now along comes an ‘expert’ who says we need to eat more eggs because they are rich in B vitamins (especially B6, B12 and folic acid)...

...but fails to mention how important the healthy cholesterol they contain is.

It is though he can’t bring himself to explain that every cell in our body needs this fat to maintain its function and structure – brain and neural tissue especially.

We are used to these types drooling over the healthy oils in fish such as tuna and mackerel, but completely failing to recognise the importance of the same types of compounds that are found in other food stuffs.

Eggs are beyond doubt the most complete food we can eat.

Rich in protein, fat and carbohydrate they are able to sustain us when we are short of other suitable food.

Of course, you can have too much of a good thing as they are lacking in fibre and this can lead to problems with constipation if too many are eaten at one sitting.

But as in all matters, the correct balance of eggs and vegetables gives everything that a healthy body needs.

There are still those who would make you believe that the humble egg is not all good – in fact they think they are some sort of health bomb.

Misguided and plain wrong

I’ve collected together some of the common misconceptions about eggs and tried to explode the myths:

  1. Eggs are packed with unhealthy cholesterol. This is still the most repeated untruth about hen’s eggs, because whilst they do contain high levels of cholesterol it is unlikely to have any impact on blood content, and therefore won’t do anything to damage your heart.

  2. Eggs are the commonest source of salmonella poisoning. This commonly held belief is in fact another of the big misunderstandings about eggs, especially fresh eggs.  At a time when rates of food poisoning were seen to increase eggs were made public enemy number one. However, eggs are not the culprits – or at least not without shoddy practices by those who prepare them and store them. Fast food restaurants rarely use fresh eggs, preferring bulked consignments of pre-shelled ones instead... this is where the bacteria get in, not through the shells.

  3. An egg a day shortens your life. A 2008 study(1) of 20,000 USA doctors found that those who consumed an egg a day had a shorter life expectancy, and this ‘fact’ is often trotted out as proof of the dangers of eggs. What the study failed to note though was other lifestyle factors which could have skewed the data, such as work related stress, other elements of diet and even whether they smoked or not!

The issue about how the hen lives is still a matter of conscience and budget, but nutritionally the evidence suggests that true free range birds (those that can scrape and eat grubs, worms and insects alongside grain) offer higher levels of important vitamins than those in battery cages. Interestingly though the levels of cholesterol are about the same.

There are many health claims and scare stories out there that make a simple egg something of a Jekyll & Hyde character, but I think it’s time we celebrated the humble ovoid rather than keep treating it like a serial killer.

A day without an egg is a day short on sunshine

What is the best way to get your fill of eggs?

Well the simplest and most enjoyable in my book is a plain boiled egg with toast soldiers – the first dip of the bread into the cracked egg leads to an overspill of rich golden yolk – the first sunshine of the day as my uncle used to say.

Next up a nice scrambled egg with a dash of tabasco sauce and a handful of chopped chives is never an unwelcome addition to the breakfast table.

Poached with a drop of vinegar in the water is yet another favourite way to accompany a nice bit of toast.

As a treat, fried along with a bit of bacon, a proper butcher’s sausage and a few field mushrooms is permissible once a month especially after a long walk with the dog o’er hill and dale.

But if you want a really delightful supper, how about an egg curry?

This simple but filling dish comes from South India and there are many variations on the theme, but my own recipe is as follows:

Ingredients

3 hard boiled eggs
1 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp each of turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, black pepper and garam marsala
½ an onion, chopped
chopped clove of garlic and a grating of fresh ginger
1 chopped, deseeded red chilli
½ tin chopped tomatoes
½ tin coconut milk
pinch of cinnamon powder
handful chopped coriander leaves

Method

  • Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the mustard oil until they begin to colour.
  • Add in the dry spices and chilli and stir, adding water if the mix begins to dry too much. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Add the eggs (shelled) and stir around in the spice mix allowing them to take on the colour of the turmeric and other spices.
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and allow to bubble until the sauce thickens slightly.
  • Serve with rice and garnish generously with the coriander.

A quick, easy and rather novel way to enjoy an egg...

...and never let anyone tell you any different!

And finally, more good news about Vitamin D

A few months ago I revealed the latest positive health benefits for increased usage of vitamin D supplements so there was no surprise that the good news keeps building for this inexpensive but highly acclaimed tonic.

This week the news feeds were buzzing with stories about how asthma sufferers could benefit from daily usage.

You can read the BBC story here

It is becoming increasingly clear that modern medicine has to recognise the truth about the way natural compounds influence better health, the evidence is compelling.

Until Sunday I wish you well, naturally!

Yours, as always

Ray

P.S. The other five foods the nutritionist said we should all eat were nuts, oily fish, blueberries, ginger and oats... no surprises there then!

References;

(1) Djoussé, L., & Gaziano, J. M. (2008). Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians' Health Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(4), 964-969.



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