So with eggs continuing to be the main food causing food poisoning in Australia, the question needs to be asked whether eggs are good for us or bad?
For quite some time there have been claims that eggs are bad for us nutritionally, and especially that they cause the bad cholesterol (LDL) to increase in our bodies.
So with the apparent food safety risk and the possible health implications, why should we bother to eat eggs at all?
First let's deal with the food safety side of the problem. Eggs are one of the potentially hazardous foods and if not handled properly will allow bacteria to grown and likely cause food poisoning.
The key to food safety and eggs is the proper handling. If only eggs from recognised safe sources are used, they are properly washed and all surfaces are kept clean, there is a greatly reduced chance of food poisoning. Cracked eggs should not be used at all in a food business or at home, unless they are going to be heated above 60C, and they should never ever be used in raw foods, like mayonnaise. Eggs should also be temperature controlled, especially after being cracked and should then not be above 5C.
So we now have safe eggs, let's work out if they are good for us as well.
Eggs are basically a container full of nutrients designed to provide everything a baby chick will need to get to a point of being able to hatch. This means that they are highly nutritious and have been called "nature's perfect food".
They are high in protein with around six grams of high quality protein per egg. This means it is not only good for you, but this nutrient also fills you up more than all others and you will therefore be less likely to want to eat as much if you eat eggs. In a country that now has the unenviable claim to the second fastest growing obesity rate in the world, eggs are certainly something to consider in our diets.
Eggs contain about 100mg of Choline per egg and this is needed in the building of cells. There is a Choline deficiency in most western countries and eating eggs regularly could reduce this.
Eye health can also be improved by eating eggs. They contain two antioxidants that have been found to help reduce the likelihood of both cataracts and macular degeneration.
Ok, so eggs are obviously nutritious and eating them will help our cells and eyes, but what about the whole cholesterol thing?
Eggs do contain cholesterol, in fact a single egg will deliver around 200 of the recommended daily allowance of 300mg. However it is the good HDL type of cholesterol, not the bad LDL. In more than 70% of people, consuming eggs does not affect the cholesterol in our blood at all. In the remaining 30%, the total blood cholesterol content may go up as well as the LDL type. However eating eggs has been found to change the structure of the LDL cholesterol in our blood to a form that actually reduces the risk of heart disease.
So are eggs good or bad? The simple answer is that eggs are good for us, and if handled properly will not only be safe but can make us healthier as well.