Eggs and Egg Replacers
In and out of dietary and health favor, the egg—that perennial and ancient staple—has come back into fashion once again, with the added caution: in moderation. Why? Because recent research suggests that eggs have valid nutritional benefits for both the brain and the heart. The studies acknowledge that eggs do contain cholesterol, but that saturated fats, not cholesterol from eggs, may be a contributing factor for heart disease.
As a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health confirms, cholesterol from eggs and other dietary sources does not play a big role in heart disease, so it cautiously suggests that for most people, eating one egg a day is not putting them at risk.
Nevertheless, the American Heart Association recommends limiting egg consumption to four a week, and better yet, using the cholesterol-free white with 2 teaspoons of unsaturated oils instead of the whole egg for added protein intake.
According to the American Egg Board, one egg contains 75 calories, plus various essential nutrients. For more egg information, check out the American Egg Board.
Benefit of Eggs
Besides providing an excellent source of protein, eggs—eaten in moderation—provide such needed nutrients as essential vitamins, iron, zinc, and lutein, a carotenoid that may help keep eyes healthy. And they are low in saturated fats.
Besides, eggs are easy on the pocketbook. They are also easy on the cook, for eggs can be eaten solo, whipped into numerous dishes, and added to baked goods, all good reasons to consider an egg as a protein option.
Not all eggs are the same, however, as you may discover in your dairy case. Not only do size and color vary, but also eggs may come from hens fed on diets enriched with omega-3s, hens allowed a free-range diet, and hens fed on organic foodstuffs. You can even find hens fed on a vegetarian diet, which means their eggs are naturally lower in cholesterol.
As with any fresh product, you’ll need to handle eggs safely: check the sell-buy date on the carton; check that all eggs are whole without any hairline cracks on the shell; and refrigerate and cook eggs properly at home.
If you are on an eggless diet, you need to consider other protein substitutes for the whole egg—and you have plenty of options to consider. Because you can chop, scramble, whip, or beat it, and it adds both texture and protein, tofu is an excellent egg substitute. For baked goods when you need added moisture, you might use a banana, applesauce, potato starch, mashed potatoes, puréed winter squash, or mashed cooked prunes as egg substitutes.
Check your vegan cookbooks or recipes to figure out the egg-to-substitute ratio. But remember, eggs are also leavening agents, so you’ll need to use an egg replacer or another ingredient such as baking soda or buttermilk to achieve a good baked result.
You can find powdered egg replacers at health food stores and many whole-food markets; to use them properly, follow package directions. But remember, egg replacers and egg substitutes do not cook up the same way eggs do, so you may have to experiment to get the results you are looking for. For more ideas, check out The Cook's Thesaurus.