Eggs the powerhouse of nutrients; How many should one have daily?

The International Egg Commission has chosen ‘Eggs for a Healthy Future’ as the theme of International Egg Day this year. Photo: Shutterstock

Science has classified eggs as a nutritional powerhouse. One of the most affordable sources of protein, eggs are versatile and can be used with several recipes. They are packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients that help you feel full and fuelled for whatever the day holds for you.
Today is World Egg Day, being observed to highlight the nutritional punch that the eggs pack and the need to include them as a component of a healthy diet. The International Egg Commission has chosen ‘Eggs for a Healthy Future’ as the theme of International Egg Day this year.

Egg as a nutritional powerhouse; competes with mother’s milk
Eggs contain high-quality proteins, besides several vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy and balanced diet. The volume of water, protein, fat, starch, and minerals in an egg are 76.1%, 12.6%, 9.5%, 0.7%, and 1.1% respectively. Both the egg white (albumen) and the yolk are a rich source of protein. In an egg that weighs between 50 to 55 grams, up to 6.3 grams will be protein alone. It also contains amino acids that are beneficial and essential to the human body.

Biological value (BV) is a measure of the efficiency of protein from a food item becoming incorporated into the cells in the body. In terms of biological value, no food item can match the eggs. On a scale with 100 representing top efficiency, the Biological Value of eggs is rated at 94 while that of cow's milk is only 90. In terms of biological value, eggs also compete with the mother’s milk.

An article published in the renowned science research publication Nutrients states that as many as 550 different types of proteins have been discovered in the yolk and egg whites so far. The scientists, however, have been able to identify the functioning of only 20 of these. In other words, we are yet to get a complete grasp on the wholesome nutritional benefits of the egg.

A bulk of the fat content in eggs is unsaturated and thus becomes beneficial to the human body. Of the total fatty acid composition in 100 grams of egg, up to 5.5 grams are mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. The high volume of incomplete fat makes eggs safe and healthy for consumption.

Eggs do not raise blood cholesterol
While a few are wary about egg consumption raising cholesterol levels, the latest research in this direction seeks to reject such a notion and adds that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t necessarily increase cholesterol in the blood. Eggs also supply linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. While egg yolk offers enough vitamins except for vitamin C, egg white primarily supplies vitamin B. Eggs are also rich in choline, which is up to 680 mg in 100 grams of yolk and 1 mg in egg white.

Medical Science regards choline as a crucial component that aids the functioning of the nervous system, brain growth, and bone strength. This little talked-about nutrient plays a critical role in the growth of the brain and nervous system of children. The large amounts of lutein in choline are beneficial for eye health. And it’s not just about the vitamins, but the minerals too. 100 grams of egg contains up to 142 mg of minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and sodium, besides other minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, iodine, etc. The richness of iron and zinc makes it an effective medicine for addressing anaemia in children.

The researchers, meanwhile, have also testified to various other qualities of eggs such as anti-hypertensive activity, immunomodulatory activity, tumor-inhibitory activities, antimicrobial activities, and antioxidant character. Egg is the most affordable food that is super-nutritious. This is exactly why the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) made a recommendation that an adult person should consume at least 180 eggs every year for a healthy life. The agency also insists on children consuming a minimum of 90 eggs every year. A healthy adult with no health issues can consume up to two eggs a day. 

Massive strides in egg production
India is currently the third-largest producer of eggs globally. While the country produced about 1.83 billion eggs annually during 1950-51, the volume of annual production has grown by leaps and bounds to reach 129.6 billion in 2021- 22. The per capita availability of eggs has also jumped to 95 from just five during this period. As per estimates, egg production in the country has been increasing at a rate of 8 to 10% per year. The states of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, and West Bengal account for the bulk of the country’s egg production.

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