World Egg Day
Poached, scrambled or fried sunny side-up? To celebrate World Egg Day, we will be cracking some of the most popular egg myths and discussing the benefits they can contribute to our diet and health.
Myth: “Raw eggs contain Salmonella so I should only be eating eggs which have been cooked until both the yolk and white are solid”.
Cracked: In 2017, the Food Standards Agency declared all British Lion eggs to be free of Salmonella and any UK hen eggs that bear the British Lion mark can be safely consumed raw or runny, even by vulnerable groups of the population1. This includes infants, pregnant women and the elderly. This statement comes after the successful introduction of the Lion Code of Practice in 1998, which implemented a number of stringent quality control measures to improve the safety of UK hen eggs2. It is important to note that this does not apply to UK non-Lion eggs, non-hen eggs and eggs from outside the UK. So the next time you want to have dippy eggs, just look out for the British Lion stamp!
Myth: “Eggs are high in cholesterol and therefore significantly raises blood cholesterol levels”
Cracked: This misconception stemmed from incorrect conclusions being drawn from previous research that dietary cholesterol contributed to raised blood cholesterol levels3. We now know that the saturated fat we consume has a much greater effect on blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol does4. For most of us, there is no restriction on how many eggs we should be consuming. But for those with familial hypercholesterolaemia – a genetic condition characterised by elevated cholesterol levels – the advice is to limit their intake to 3 – 4 eggs a week3.
Myth: “Eggs are an allergenic food so it must not be used as a weaning food for infants”
Cracked: The UK Department of Health currently states that eggs, along with other allergenic foods, can be safely introduced to infants from six months of age onwards5. There is evidence to show that introduction of eggs at around six months of age helps build tolerance against these food proteins and reduces the infants’ risk of developing allergies later in life6,7. Deliberate exclusions or delayed introduction of eggs may actually be counterproductive for allergenic risk8.
Nutritional Benefits of Eggs
- Protein – eggs are a high-quality protein source because they contain all nine essential amino acids (protein building blocks)9. They are particularly high in the amino acid leucine, which has been shown to successfully promote muscle synthesis and therefore delay the onset of sarcopenia (muscle loss) in older adults10.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – eggs are a source of omega-3 fatty acids which play an important role in brain development11. Due to their softer texture, certain groups of people may prefer eggs to other sources of omega-3 such as oily fish12.
- Iodine – iodine plays a key role in cognitive and thyroid functions10. Infants born to mothers with an iodine deficiency have shown lower IQ scores and reading abilities13. Pregnant women are therefore advised to have 200µg14 of iodine daily to ensure there is sufficient levels for the infant’s brain development. A serving of two medium eggs can contribute to a quarter (50µg15) of the recommended iodine intake for pregnant women.
We hope we have convinced you that eggs are a nutritious food that can be safely enjoyed by every age group. Their versatility makes them perfect to use in various dishes or even just to enjoy on their own!
1Food Standards Agency (2017) New advice on eating runny eggs. Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20171207160203/https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/16597/new-advice-on-eating-runny-eggs [Accessed: 03/07/19]
2British Egg Industry Council (2013) British Lion Code of Practice. Available at: https://www.egginfo.co.uk/british-lion-eggs/lion-code-practice [Accessed: 03/07/19]
3British Heart Foundation (2015) Eggs and cholesterol. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2015/may/eggs-and-cholesterol [Accessed: 03/07/19]
4Smith, A. and Gray, J. (2016) Considering the benefits of egg consumption for older people at risk of sarcopenia, British Journal of Community Nursing, 21(6), pp. 305–309.
5Gray, J. and Gibson, S. (2014) Egg consumption in pregnancy and infant diets: How advice is changing, Journal of Health Visiting, 2(4), pp. 198–206.
6Du Toit, G. et al. (2015) Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy, The New England Journal of Medicine, 372(9), p. 803-813.
7Perkin, M. R. et al. (2016) Randomized Trial of Introduction of Allergenic Foods in Breast-Fed Infants, The New England Journal of Medicine, 374(18), pp. 1733–1743.
8Lack, G. (2012) Update on risk factors for food allergy, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 129(5), pp. 1187–1197.
9FAO/WHO/UNU (2007) Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition, WHO Technical Report Series, 935, pp. 1–265.
10Ruxton, C. (2017) Eggs Are They Nature’s Multivitamins? Available at: https://www.egginfo.co.uk/sites/default/files/Eggs%20-%20Nature%27s%20Multivitamin%20Media%20Report%20May%202017.pdf [Accessed: 03/07/19]
11European Commission (2016) EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims [Accessed: 03/07/19]
12British Dietetics Association (2017) Food Fact Sheet: Omega-3 Available at: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/omega3.pdf [Accessed: 03/07/19]
13Rayman, M. P. and Bath, S. C. (2015) The new emergence of iodine deficiency in the UK: consequences for child neurodevelopment, Annals of Clinical Biochemistry, 52(6), pp. 705–708.
14European Food Safety Authority (2014) Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for iodine, EFSA Journal, 12(5)
15British Egg Information Service (2019) Recommended intake information – health professionals. Available at: https://www.egginfo.co.uk/egg-nutrition-and-health/egg-nutrition-information/vitamins-and-minerals/health-professionals [Accessed: 03/07/2019]