Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Debunking the Bunk - Eggs

So there are foods out there that we were raised "knowing" were bad for you. Based on the nutrition research of the day, some foods at one point in time were thought to have a decidedly negative effect on your health. Among them: eggs, olive oil, coconut, chocolate, cupcakes (ok, that last one was wishful thinking). And now we start to hear more recent research about potentially positive effects of these very same foods. Whether that will be born out by time remains to be seen. However, some of these foods just aren't the evils they were made out to be.

First up: Eggs.

I grew up in the era of the Bad Egg. The Bad Egg was a super injection of bad cholesterol that put plaque layers directly onto your arteries. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Prior to the discovery of cholesterol, eggs were considered "the perfect food, the centerpiece of solid breakfasts, the hearty garnishes atop salads and side dishes" (Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy). After the discovery of cholesterol, eggs became a poor choice for nutrition, and correspondingly, the sales fell.

New studies, however, tell a different tale (this information again cited from above linked book).
Here's what these new studies state:

1. Eggs are low in saturated fat
2. They contain protein, polyunsaturated fat, folic acid, and vitamins B and D
3. Their effect on heart disease can't be predicted based on their cholesterol content

There are two types of people: Responders (R) and Nonresponders (NR). Rs reflect the amount of cholesterol they eat in the amount of cholesterol in their bloodstream. NRs can eat cholesterol with only very small changes in the cholesterol in their bloodstream. And eating eggs has very little effect on LDL (bad cholesterol). No research has shown that eating more eggs translates into a higher chance of heart disease (unless you have diabetes).

For a much less scientific, but much more fun to read, test of the effect of eggs on health (of two Aussie men), go here.

This doesn't mean eat all the eggs you ever wanted, especially if they're doused in butter and cheese and fat. But eggs aren't the evil that I always thought them to be, and I won't feel quite so guilty about having some deviled eggs or some scrambled eggs on the rare occasion when I actually feel like having it.

Just for the sake of balance, I plugged "eggs" and "health" into google, to see whether there were any opposing viewpoints in the first page of hits. And all the top results came back with eggs being nutritious and good for you. So, as with anything, eat them in moderation, use common sense, but don't worry about all those Bad Eggs everyone always warned you about (unless you crack them and they're green and shriveled, then they might be bad in a very different way...)

Feta Garlic-Scape Scramble Eggs
3 eggs, whisked
5-10 garlic scapes (can be found in June-July at farmer's markets)
goat cheese feta (as much as desired)
roasted baby red potatoes (optional)

I basically made scrambled eggs with what I had leftover in my fridge when I got home from the gym one night. If you're short on time, you might not want to include the potatoes, as they generally take forever and an age to roast. They do add some tasty (if high-glycemic) carbs to the eggs, but if you wanted to go more the whole grain route, you could omit the potatoes and put your eggs on top of some multi-grain toast instead.

Potatoes (easy): chop up potatoes in bite sized pieces and lay out on a roasting pan. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until soft.

Potatoes (complicated): chop up potatoes in bite sized pieces and lay out on a roasting pan. Sprinkle with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, chopped parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper. Roast until soft. (I only call this complicated because it requires a cutting board and a little bowl for mixing)

Scrambled eggs preparation: chop up the garlic scapes into bit sized pieces. Saute in a pan with olive/grapeseed oil until fragrant, but not until limp. While these are cooking, wash eggs, then crack and whisk yolks into whites. Add eggs to scapes and cook until softly scrambled. Add potatoes and feta and cook until eggs are firm. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

One note about garlic scapes: later in the season (or if they're sitting in your fridge for a while, since they do keep a long time), the scapes can become pretty fibrous. You only want to use the end from the thin tip to the bump (I don't know how else to describe this, but there's a bump about halfway up). The thick end is a lot tougher and stringier to chew.


MizFit said...


when I lived in the third world for a bit I had a personal blog.
every time Id blog about eating eggs (yea. the whole blog was a bit snoozeworthy but thats another story :)) Id get emails from the USA friends telling me to STOP. and lecturing me about how BAD eggs are...


The Lethological Gourmet said...

It's amazing how fast people jump on the lecturing bandwagon, isn't it? (and yes, I have to admit guilt on this point on occasion). I think that we're so at the mercy of what the current scientific and media communities want us to think that it's hard to know what's what sometimes, especially when the "experts" keep flip-flopping their opinions all over the place!

Missicat said...

Ah, yes, I remember the Bad Egg. Also the Bad Coffee, the Bad Chocolate, the Bad Wine, etc., etc.
Glad to hear eggs are good again - they make a nice, quick meal when I am too tired to make anything fancy!
Also - cupcakes - made with eggs? and chocolate? So they must be good, right? :-)

Leah J. Utas said...

My mom always said, "An egg will hold you together." I never did buy into that whole eggs are bad business.

Must research garlic scape and it's good to read about someone else who eats goat feta.

Lethological Gourmet said...

Missicat, I totally think that cupcakes should be considered good for us! (willingly putting on the sugar-blinders). I've never been a big egg fan, but the quick meal thing is definitely appealing, which is why I'm eating them more now.

Leah, garlic scapes are awesome awesome awesome! I think they're probably past season now, but next June you should definitely grab them at the farmer's market. The first week, I was raving about them, so my mother went to buy some...turns out I bought so many there weren't any left by the time she got there! One thing to note: make sure you cook them because they are REALLLLLY garlicky when raw...

JavaChick said...

Eggs and butter and cheese you say...Mmmm!

We like to wrap potatoes in foil and roast them on the BBQ, but as you say it sometimes takes a while for them to cook (I like 'em nice and soft, preferable browned on the outside) so we have been cheating. We chop up some baby potatoes, toss them in a casserole dish and cook them in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Then we mix in whatever seasonings, olive oil, etc that we want, wrap them in foil and throw them on the BBQ. Much faster for those days when you want dinner ASAP.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

Oooh, thanks for the quick-potato tip, Javachick! I don't have a BBQ, but I think a broiler would serve the same purpose!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Love eggs! And I never totally bought the idea that they were bad for you. That recipe sounds great!