Eggs: There's no need to shell out for this cracking good superfood
Chocolate eggs may be the main event at Easter, but the genuine article is great all year. Abi Jackson scrambles through the health-boosting benefits of the humble egg
Planning to indulge in a few foil-wrapped goodies over Easter? Enjoy - life is too short to deny yourself those indulgent little pleasures - but while we're on the topic, let's take a moment to appreciate the cracking nutritional credentials of real eggs, too.
When it comes to all-round healthiness, you really can't beat an egg (sorry). Cheap, quick and easy, and they go with everything, they are quite simply egg-cellent, and you might be surprised to know just how egg-ceptional they are on the good-for-you front.
Here are just some reasons to dip into more eggs.
The term 'superfood' might seem like a modern marketing ploy, but it's a label that the humble egg - something we've had in our pantries and been eating by the basket-load for forever with little fanfare - is arguably quite deserving of.
"Eggs are a really nutritious food, providing an excellent range of micronutrients. As well as being rich in vitamin D, essential for normal bones and teeth and for both muscle and immune system function, they are also a good source of DHA - one of the omega 3 fatty acids - that contributes to normal brain and eye function," says Dr Juliet Gray, registered nutritionist and advisor to the British Egg Information Service. "Eggs are also rich in selenium, important for hair and nails, the immune system, and thyroid function. On top of this, they contain more than 100% of the RI [reference intake, formerly RDA] for vitamin B12, which we need for red blood cell function, and also vitamin A, vitamin B2, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, iodine and phosphorus. All those nutrients in just one single food."
There's been growing emphasis on packing plenty of protein into our diets recently. As well as being useful for weight management, protein's role in muscle growth and repair has helped up its popularity, as more and more of us get serious about our fitness regimes. "Whether you're a gym-goer, or just trying to eat healthily, the humble egg is an awesome food to include in your diet," says Charlie Turner, co-founder of Neat Nutrition. "Poached eggs and avocado is one of my staples; high in protein and nutrients, quick and easy to cook, and budget-friendly, too. Eggs contain all the essential amino acids which your body needs when refuelling after a workout and their high protein content helps to keep you satiated all morning."
When Robson, nutritionist and co-author of The Detox Kitchen Bible, teamed up with Giraffe restaurants to share his three golden rules on eating for maximum health and happiness, he instantly knew what his first tip would be: "Start the day with an egg."
"Research has shown that people who eat eggs at breakfast eat less across the rest of the day compared to those who opt for grain-based cereals, as eggs help keep you feeling fuller for longer," explains Hobson.
They also pair extremely well with other health-boosters, to supercharge your breakfast even more. "Most of us don't get enough oily fish, so adding smoked salmon will boost those heart health omega 3 levels, and your intake of vitamin D, which many of us lack." Serve on a bed of spinach or slice of granary toast for extra vitamins and fibre.
One medium-sized egg contains around 65 calories, which makes them a fantastic choice as a healthy low-calorie snack. For context, that's less than a single portion of most types of fruit - which isn't to say you should ditch fruit in favour of eggs, but if you're looking for low-calorie snack inspiration, why not add a hard-boiled egg to your daily graze armoury?
Meanwhile, eggs rack up cracking scores in the skin-enhancing stakes. "Eggs contain vitamin A, which helps the process of cell development - especially the development of new skin cells. This is why vitamin A is often included in beauty products," explains Shona Wilkinson, head nutritionist at natural health retailer NutriCentre. "They also contain the antioxidants selenium, which helps prevent free radical damage, which is part of the aging process, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect the skin against UV damage that leads to brown spots and wrinkles."