Even though eggs are cheap, they are incredibly nutritious food. Eggs contain few calories, but they are packed vitamins, healthy fats, proteins, minerals, and different trace nutrients.
How you prepare your egg may affect the nutrient profile. In this article; you will learn the healthiest ways to cook your eggs and eat them.
A quick Review of Different Methods of Cooking Eggs
Eggs are extremely versatile and delicious. You can cook eggs in different ways and it is very easy to combine them with other healthy foods such as vegetables. So, cooking them will destroy any dangerous bacteria and make them safer to eat.
The following is the breakdown of the popular cooking methods:
The poached eggs are cooked in slightly cooler water. The eggs are cracked into a simmering water pot of between 160-180F (71-82C) and cook for 2 ½ – 3 minutes.
Eggs are also cooked in their shells in a pot of boiling water for between 6 and 10 minutes; depending on how well you want the yolk to be cooked.
This type of cooking method is done in a hot oven in a flat-bottomed dish till the eg is set.
Fried eggs are cracked into a cooking fat in a hot pan.
With omelet method of cooking, eggs are beaten in one bowl, poured into a hot pan and cooked slowly over low heat until they are set. Omelet is not stirred like scrambled.
Microwaves can be used to cook egg in different ways. It takes lesser time to cook eggs in microwave than on stove. However, it is usually not a very good idea to microwave eggs that are still inside the shells because pressure can quickly build up in them and explode.
With scrambled method of cooking, eggs are beaten in one bowl, poured into a hot pan and then stirred over low heat until they are set.
Cooking Makes Many Nutrients More Digestible
When you cook your eggs, it makes them safer to eat and also makes many of their nutrients digestible.
A popular example is protein in eggs. Different studies have showed that protein becomes more digestible when it is heated. In fact, a study found that human body could use 91 percent of the protein in the cooked eggs compare to only 51 percent in raw eggs.
The change in digestibility occurs as a result of heat that has caused structural change in the eggs protein. But in raw egg, larger protein compounds are separated from each other and curled up in a complex, twisted structure.
So, heat breaks the weak bonds holding protein in shape when they are cooked. The protein then forms new bonds with the other proteins around them. These new bonds in the cooked eggs are easy for the body to digest.
Eggs are good source of biotin, which is essential nutrient used in sugar and fat metabolism. It is also known to be vitamin B7 or vitamin H.
In the raw eggs, avidin which is a protein in egg whites binds itself to biotin, thereby making it unavailable for the body to use biotin. So, when the eggs are cooked, heat causes structural change to avidin and makes it less effective at binging to biotin, making biotin easier to absorb.
Main Lesson: Cooking your eggs make the protein in them more digestible.
High-Heat Cooking Can Damage Other Nutrients Aside From Protein
Even though cooking eggs makes many nutrients digestible, it can also damage others. This is not unusual because cooking most foods always result in reduction of some nutrients, especially when cooked a high temperatures for long period.
Cooking eggs may also reduce the amount of antioxidants in them significantly. A study found that common cooking methods like frying, microwaving and boiling eggs reduce the amount of some certain antioxidants by 6 to 18 percent. Overall, shorter cooking time have shown to retain more nutrients.
However, even if cooking eggs reduce these nutrients, eggs are still very rich source of antioxidants and vitamins.
High-Heat Cooking Oxidizes the Cholesterol in Eggs.
The egg yolks are very high in cholesterol. In fact, a large egg contains about 212mg of cholesterol, which is 71 percent of the previously recommended intake of 300mg per day.
Now in US, there is no recommended upper limit on daily cholesterol intake. When eggs are cooked at high temperature, the cholesterol present in them become oxidized and produced oxysterols.
This is a great concern because both oxysterols and oxidized cholesterol in the blood have been linked to the increase risk of heart disease. Having said that, the main source of oxidized cholesterol is not egg, but commercially fried foods like fried fish, chicken and French fries.
However, no study has shown that eating eggs can increase the risk of heart disease in people that are healthy.
How to Cook Super Healthy Eggs?
Eggs are very nutritious, but there are ways by which you can make your eggs even healthier. Here are the 5 tips to cook healthy eggs;
1. Combine Them With Vegetables
Vegetables and eggs always go really well together. This means, eating eggs is a great opportunity to boost your vegetable intake and add more vitamins and fiber to your meal.
You can simply add any vegetable of your choice into a scrambled or omelet eggs. Or, you can cook egg in your way and have vegetable on its side when you are eating it.
2. Choose a Low-Calorie Cooking Method
If you are the type that is trying to cut back on calories, you can choose either boiled egg or poached egg. This cooking methods have no extra fat calories, therefore the meal will have a low calorie than a fried or omelet of scrambled eggs.
3. Choose the Most Nutritious Eggs
The nutritional value of an egg can be influenced by different factors which include method and the chicken diet. Generally, organic and pasture-raised eggs are thought to be very nutritionally superior to the conventionally-produced and caged eggs.
4. Fry The Eggs in Oil That is Stable at High Temperature.
The best oil for cooking are the oils that are stable at high temperatures and don’t easily oxidize to form harmful free radicals. Examples of good oils are butter and olive oil. Coconut oil is also good but some people may not like its taste with eggs.
5. Don’t Overcook Your Eggs
The hotter and longer you cook your eggs, the more nutrients you are likely to lose. Using higher heat for a long period may also increase the amount of oxidized cholesterol in them. This is true of pan frying in particular.
Lower-heat and shorter cooking methods cause less oxidation of cholesterol and can help to retain most of the nutrients in the eggs.
Therefore, boiled and poached (either soft or hard) eggs may be the healthiest eggs to eat. The poached and boiled cooking methods will also not add unnecessary calorie into your meal.
No matter the way you cook your eggs, eating eggs is generally super healthy. So you may cook and eat your eggs the way you enjoy most.