One of the most demonized food items in Ghana are eggs. They have been accused of causing an increase in blood cholesterol levels and also leaving consumers with lots of gas that causes frequent flatulence. You will ask people when they last took in an egg and they will find it difficult to remember. Statements like, “it contains cholesterol”, “I fart too much when I take it” are typical responses one gets. People tend to focus on these negative misconceptions and forgo the many positives associated with egg intake.
As we celebrate world egg day today, I seek to exorcise eggs of the demons forced on them with an intent to let us all appreciate its uses and benefits. Let me start by dispelling the notion that egg intake will lead to a rise in blood cholesterol levels. The daily requirement of cholesterol intake in adults is about 300mg which is equivalent to what is present in the average sized egg so it just meets the requirements. Then again, recent evidence points to the fact the dietary cholesterol intake does not contribute significantly to blood cholesterol levels, excessive saturated and Trans fats intake are however, implicated. It does not also mean that we should take five or six eggs at a go without considering the fact that it contains fat which adds up to our total energy intake. Again, for the sake of ensuring dietary diversity, adding fishes, legumes, nuts, poultry and occasional lean meat is advised as alternate sources of protein which should be present in our diets. It should therefore be safe to say that an egg a day is a healthy choice to make.
I will briefly explain below five reasons why you should consider taking an egg a day.
Nutrition- One of the main reasons why you should consider egg intake is because of its nutrition. It is a high biological value protein, meaning, it has most of all the essential amino acids humans need for growth and development. This make it indispensable for all, especially children. It is also considered a complete meal because it is satisfying and apart from carbohydrates has all the needed nutrients. These include; folates, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, iron, phosphorus, selenium, calcium and zinc. These are vital for the proper functioning and protection of the body. The high albumin levels in eggs is useful for the management of many conditions in the hospital. It also contains choline is also important for brain development.
Price- Eggs are a cheaper source of good proteins when compared to other good sources such as fish and meat. In a low to middle income country like Ghana where poverty levels are high, eggs come in handy and affordable. Buying GH₵2 worth of waakye, GH₵ 1 vegetable salad and GH₵1.5 boiled egg is enough to obtain a balanced meal for less than GH₵5.
Availability- Eggs are available all year round in almost every town. You can find eggs on the streets, in every canteen or restaurant. Keeping fowls to obtain eggs is not a very expensive venture to undertake on the subsistence level. Having a few to meet the family’s nutrition needs is advised to deal with the fear of hormonal injections and adulterated feed.
Utility- Another reason to consider eggs is because it can be used in almost every dish, from your boiled rice, to the boiled yam or plantain, mpotompoto, mashed yam, egg sandwich, fried vegetable rice and to the popular boiled egg with pepper. It blends in well and is useful in many dishes. So whatever you want to eat, add an egg to it and you are sorted.
Pleasure – Eggs are one of the most pleasurable foods to have because of the nutrient and fat filled yolk present. The habit of removing the yolk before taking an egg may not be helpful especially when one is taking only one egg. Eggs are also satisfying and will give filling for persons living with diabetes who are on a reduced carbohydrate intake.
I have attempted to provide you with enough reasons not to be afraid of taking eggs but to include them in your diet together with other protein sources like fish, legumes and meat. So today, try a meal made with eggs to optimize your nutrition. Have an Egg-citing day.
Do not forget that life is precious so eat to live
Nana Kofi Owusu (RD)
Dietitian/Lecturer (UHAS)/TV Host.