Does an egg a day keep the doctor away?
My 3-year-old son certainly thinks so. When I recently asked him what his favourite food is he replied, “eggs, scrambled eggs and omelette”! Needless to say, he’s a true egg-lover.
So when I recently heard that an egg a day may be bad for children, I panicked. My son eats one daily. Was I setting him the foundation for an adulthood full of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes and high cholesterol? Surely an egg has to be better than a burger a day. So I set out on a quest to find the truth about eggs. The first thing I did was to find out what other mums thought.
Fellow mums were of the opinion that an egg a day for children was fine. Many said it’s the ideal brain-food for kids.
Other mums said it was their children’s main source of protein. I was happy to know my boy wasn’t the only egg enthusiast around and that other parents thought similarly about the goodness of eggs.
Over the years, eggs have been labelled as good or bad for health. One of the most popular claims is eating them frequently causes elevated blood cholesterol. However, recent research has busted this claim – eating an egg daily is not directly responsible for this.
One egg contains approximately 185mg of cholesterol. A healthy child’s daily cholesterol intake should be under 300mg a day. As long as your child is not going over this amount every day, an egg daily shouldn’t be a problem.
Just look at all these nutrients and the related benefits found inside an egg:
- Choline: for brain development, function and memory;
- Folate: produces and maintains red blood cells;
- Iron: carries oxygen to the cells;
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: maintain good vision and protect the eyes against harmful UV rays;
- Niacin: promotes normal nerve function and helps release energy;
- Omega-3 fats: improve blood cholesterol;
- Protein: helps keep body strong;
- Riboflavin: helps keep body tissues healthy;
- Vitamin A: protects against cancers;
- Vitamin B12: protects against heart disease;
- Vitamin D: keeps bones and teeth healthy;
- Vitamin E: acts as an antioxidant;
- Zinc: promotes a strong immune system.
More eggy information on the next page!
A common accusation against the egg is that it causes salmonella poisoning. Salmonella enteritidis is a common bacterium found inside perfectly normal-looking eggs.
If eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, they carry the risk of causing salmonella poisoning. Most people recover without treatment. But infants, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems are at risk for serious illness.
The simplest way of destroying any salmonella bacteria is to full-boil the egg. But it’s also pretty easy to prevent food poisoning via egg consumption simply by following some basic food safety rules:
- Be sure to eat fresh eggs with shells intact.
- Wash the outside of the egg shell before you crack it.
- While it is recommended not to give soft-boiled eggs to children, pasteurised eggs (which we will talk about soon) are the better option.
As with almost anything these days, the choices when it comes to eggs are huge. Here’s what different labels on those cartons mean:
Cage-free: These are eggs from birds usually raised in an open barn.
Free-range (Kampong eggs to us Singaporeans): These are laid by hens that have the opportunity to roam about freely. These hens obviously have a more ‘natural’ diet as opposed to caged hens.
Organic: Organic eggs generally come from cage-free hens who eat an organic feed and don’t receive vaccines or antibodies.
Vegetarian: The hens that produce these eggs are only fed a vegetarian diet – free from any meat or fish by-products. Hens are kept in cages or indoors and do not peck at any grubs or worms.
Pasteurised: These eggs have been put through a pasteurisation process where they are heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 3.5 minutes. This kills bacteria without cooking the egg. Eating pasteurised eggs is recommended for young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems so they can reduce the risk of contracting a salmonella infection. Pasteurised eggs are available in selected Singaporean supermarkets.
Like with any good thing, moderation is the key. But we do hope this information has made it a bit easier to decide what to do when your child demands an egg a day!
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