Sure, a scrambled, fried or poached egg can start your day off strong. But want the really good nutrition news? This breakfast staple is actually an underrated all-star for your lunches, dinners and desserts too.
According to accredited dietitian Catriona Hull, eggs can be consumed daily as part of a heart-healthy eating pattern (stick to less than seven per week if you have high cholesterol or heart disease, advises the Heart Foundation).
“Eggs are a superfood packed with vitamins and nutrients,” Hull adds. We dish on just a few of this perfect protein’s magical powers.
245: that’s the average number of eggs each person in Australia consumes in a year, which equals around four to five eggs per week.
The super sauce
Go beyond toast and top a bowl of spaghetti with a fried egg – sunny side up. Stir a drizzle of olive oil through a bowl of freshly cooked al dente spaghetti, sprinkle over cracked pepper, sea salt and chopped flat-leaf parsley, and top with an egg that has been fried just long enough for the white to set – the runny yolk becomes a built-in pasta sauce. Even better? “Egg yolks are rich in folate and vitamin B12,” says Hull. “They’re also packed with amino acids that help prevent heart disease.”
The tasty dessert
“Egg whites are a good source of riboflavin, selenium and potassium, an essential mineral,” says Hull, so why not use whites to bake up an instantly fancy, four-ingredient dessert? Use an electric mixer to whisk four egg whites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, then gradually add one cup of caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking in between additions until all of the sugar dissolves. Whisk for a further three minutes into a shiny meringue that you can dollop on fruit, and then bake in a low-heat oven until golden on top. Sweet!
The salad topper
Grating a hard-boiled egg over roasted asparagus, blanched greens or a simple salad adds richness (plus a few extra nutrients like vitamin A, E, B5, iron and iodine, says Hull) and can turn your go-to side into a filling meal. “Eggs are great for appetite control,” adds Hull. “A large egg provides about five grams of (mostly the right kind of) fat and a decent six grams of protein to keep you full.”
The healthy binder
An egg’s slightly sticky texture not only helps bind breadcrumbs or chopped nuts to chicken, fish and vegetables, it also ups the nutrition quota. “Eggs are high in antioxidants that promote healthy eyesight,” says Hull. “And one egg contains about 40 per cent of your daily vitamin D requirements.”
The flavour enhancer
Add a whisked whole egg at the end of the cooking process to add texture and flavour to ordinary chicken broth. Just pour the egg into the broth, then stir, remove from the heat and cover it for a few minutes. Doing this will build up the body of your dish, while building your body at the same time.
“Eggs are considered the gold standard that other proteins are measured against,” says Hull. “Because eggs contain all the essential amino acids in the right ratios, the protein is absorbed easily and efficiently used by the body for both muscle repair and bone health.”