January is National Egg Month. Apart from being delicious and versatile, eggs are also nutritious, and an essential part of a balanced diet. Containing up to six grams of protein, eggs are a wonder food that can give much-needed energy in the morning. Eggs also provide a great source of choline which is anti-inflammatory. For the best, healthiest option, choose eggs from pastured, free roaming chickens.
Eggs used to have a bad rep for increasing the body’s cholesterol levels, and contributing to heart disease. These misconceptions are actually far from the truth. Cholesterol levels are raised by saturated fats, not dietary cholesterol. Eggs contain up to five grams of polyunsaturated fat, which improves blood cholesterol levels.
According to modern research, moderate consumption of eggs has no negative effect on the cholesterol levels of healthy people. Studies have also found that eating two eggs per day may improve a person’s lipid profile. Adding credence to this, a Harvard study found no direct link between reasonable egg consumption and heart disease.
The catch here is that the egg has to be cooked in a healthy manner. All those health benefits may be negated, for example, if you fry an egg to a solid crisp in heaps of shortening. Below are some healthy ways to cook eggs. Who says you can’t have your healthy eggs and eat ‘em too?
Classic Poached Egg
Poaching eggs is a healthier alternative to frying. At its most basic, poaching involves sliding an egg into a pan or Dutch oven filled with hot water. The result is a soft, slightly delicate, egg dish. (Imagine a hard-boiled egg, but fluffier.)
The great thing about poached eggs – and all egg cooking methods, actually – is its versatility. You can eat poached eggs on their own, over a hot bowl of steaming oatmeal, or as topping on a salad.
Making hard-boiled eggs seems simple enough: Boil water, drop egg in, wait a bit, crack open hard-boiled egg, enjoy. The truth is, there are some subtleties to boiling eggs. For starters, you can’t actually see the egg, which means you can’t judge to doneness of the egg visually. Speaking of doneness, hard-boiled isn’t the only way to go. You can also make soft-boiled eggs. Proper timing is key.
Hard-boiling is one of the healthiest cooking methods for eggs. You don’t use oil, or any other ingredients. Just don’t season with too much salt while eating. And beware of salmonella; be sure to cook the egg fully.
Scrambling is another cooking method with a lot of healthy options. At its most basic, a scrambled egg is just that – a beaten egg, lightly fried. You can add cream or milk to fluff it up. To add a bit of flavor, why not experiment with some spices?
Frying: Yay or nay?
Frying is probably the first thing that comes to mind when cooking eggs. And for good reason – fried eggs are delicious! Unlike most cooking methods listed here, frying gives the egg a mix of appetizing textures – from a moist yolk, to the crisp edges.
The challenge to this is to use healthy fats when making fried eggs. Coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee are all tasty, good for you choices. Just as with scrambled eggs, go easy on the seasoning.
photo: Kai Hendry
Marc Webster is a writer who specializes in health and wellness topics. He is also works at All Time Medical, a medical supply company which sells wheelchairs, rollators and various other elderly mobility aids. He also has a huge passion for cooking and is continually exploring the versatility of egg in different dishes.