All About Eggs
Ever wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? Regardless of the point of origin, records show that in India, wild birds were domesticated as early as 3200 B.C. By 1400 B.C., chickens were being raised in Egypt and China. Domesticated hens made their appearance in Europe by 600 B.C. Though there are about 200 breeds of chickens, the most popular laying hen in the U.S. is the single-comb white leghorn. Early ancestors of these hens may have arrived here in 1492, after crossing the open seas with Christopher Columbus! Today, hens in the U.S. produce some 75 billion eggs a year, which accounts for about 10 percent of the world’s supply.
Eggsperts (sorry!) tout the high nutrient density of this most versatile – and economical – gift from chickens. One large egg contains approximately 70 calories and offers 13 essential nutrients, including protein, lutein, zeaxanthin, choline, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
The high quality protein found in eggs is similar to that found in milk, and is equal to one ounce of meat or fish. Lutein and zeaxanthin, both carotenoids, help reduce the risks of macular degeneration and cataracts. Choline improves brain development and memory. Vitamin B12 aids metabolism, and riboflavin contributes to red blood cell production.
A dose of good health in a shell, an egg contains 5 grams of fat (1.6 grams of saturated fat), iron and a host of other minerals and vitamins. Stored in the yolk are vitamins A, D and E, all of which help keep the body healthy. In the past, there was concern about the high cholesterol content of an egg (213 mg), but in 2000 the American Heart Association spoke out in favor of eggs, urging us to enjoy the nutritional bounty they offer.
Baked, boiled, coddled, fried, poached, scrambled or shirred, the mighty egg delivers satisfying flavor-packed protein and plenty of nutrition, no matter how you cook it. With a little applied heat, eggs transform into frittatas, omelets or quiches. Add some additional ingredients and you can craft cookies, cakes and custards. You may devil an egg – or whip up a heavenly meringue. Basically, eggs stand ready to serve (or, more accurately, be served) any time of day.