For centuries, eggs have played a major role in feeding families around the globe. They are an unbeatable package when it comes to versatility and top-quality protein at a very affordable price. When you factor in convenience and terrific taste, there is just no competition.
Egg is a staple ingredient in all our kitchens. Don’t know what to cook? A simple egg dish is on its way from the fridge to the stove and voila our plates. The egg is an incredibly versatile ingredient, for both sweet and savoury dishes. From the humble boiled egg to the master chef’s souffl, the egg has a vital place as an ingredient in many recipes. There is no country in the world that doesn’t make extensive use of the egg in its traditional cuisine.
Not only do eggs taste good, they do you good too. Eggs are a source of low calorie, high-quality protein. Besides the protein eggs also contain vitamins B and D, and a good proportion of minerals that are important to health. Because of its huge importance in our lives, every year since 1996, World Egg Day is celebrated on second Friday of October to recognise its potential and versatility.
The UAE market
As consumers’ knowledge on farming practices increases, free-range, omega-3-enriched and organic eggs continue to grow, eggs benefit from being a common food item stocked in most households in the UAE. Eggs are popular for breakfast, and for use in preparing different kinds of dishes, being a good source of cheap, quality protein.
Modern trade is predominantly the main channel for eggs, as hygiene and freshness is a significant concern for consumers in traditional channels, especially with the extremely hot weather experienced in the UAE. Prices are mainly driven up organic eggs, as consumers are prepared to pay extra in return to higher nutritious value.
The sector has seen many local brands producing world-class, high-quality eggs to provide nutrition and food security in the country. One of the most renowned amongst them is Al Bustan Farms.
“Lately, we have been placing a lot of emphasis on bringing to the market new products out of the UAE and ensure that the group moving forward establish new investment plans to comply with UAE food security and the vision of UAE 2051,” said Charbel Mhanna, CEO of Al Bustan Investment Group, adding, “The year 2021 will turn to be another milestone year for the group with a steady, year-round development that will help us to make deeper inroads into the food production and security and we are looking to sustain our expansion momentum to solidify our leadership position in the market.”
Aside food security, local brands are also producing eggs that are packed with good fats and vitamins. Jenan, a brand of world-leading manufacturer Al Ghurair Foods that owns one of the biggest eggs farms in the UAE and embraces sustainable packaging, stays true to the concept of healthy and nutrient-rich variety and produces omega-3 enriched eggs, laid by hens that enjoy a balanced diet containing flaxseed. Jenan recently launched the first fortified vitamin D eggs, a first of its kind that makes it an excellent source of high quality protein and calcium that are essential for healthy bones and teeth.
Meanwhile, Al Ain Farms produces 90 million fresh eggs annually, completely free of antibiotics and any added hormones. As eggs are a major source of protein, and healthy for all ages, they are a part of every cuisine in households across the UAE.
Health benefits of eggs
Although every one of us is aware of the cracking benefits of eggs, we reiterate the factors as to why egg should be included in your daily diet.
Boost brain health. Eggs are chock full of choline, an essential nutrient crucial for healthy memory, mood, and muscle control. Choline is in the B vitamin family. Consuming choline through foods like eggs may actually help to prevent things like cardiovascular disease, early brain dysfunction such as dementia, and fatty liver disease.
Safeguard pregnant women. During pregnancy, choline intake is critical for fetal brain development and can help prevent birth defects. Research suggests that pregnant women who eat upwards of 900mg of choline (double the recommended daily intake) may boost cognitive development in their children later on. B12 is almost exclusively found naturally in animal products, so if you’re vegetarian, eggs can help meet your B12 needs.
Manage weight loss over time. Protein-rich foods (including eggs!) is the most filling option available at mealtime, even with smaller portions compared to other nutrients. Plus, lean protein like eggs are lower in calories than higher-fat cuts of meat and poultry.
Preserve vision and eye health. The lutein and zeaxanthin found in eggs play a role in maintaining eye health; research published in 2019 shows that lutein in particular may impact cognition in both children and adults. Gloster shares that these pigments allow our eyes to naturally filter blue-light emissions from computers and televisions; research has suggested that these compounds may even help prevent declining vision into old age and cataracts themselves.
Healthier bones. Eggs are one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, which helps with absorbing calcium, maintaining healthy bones, promoting neuromuscular function, and reducing inflammation.
Eggs raise your cholesterol: Current evidence indicates that dietary cholesterol does not automatically raise our blood cholesterol, meaning eating moderate amounts of eggs does not appear to affect disease risks in most healthy people. A recent review of previously published studies, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association by a team of researchers at Northwestern University, suggests that eating more than three eggs a week may raise risk of heart disease by upwards of 25 per cent. But many experts have conceded that dietary cholesterol isn’t as damaging to long-term health as saturated and trans fats, which can have a more serious effect on blood cholesterol. The bottom line? Eating eggs in moderation is key, especially if you already suffer from high cholesterol – a six-egg omelet daily will have an immediate effect on your cardiovascular health, but an egg or two can definitely be part of a healthy breakfast.
Brown eggs healthier than white eggs: No. The colour of an egg is not an indicator of quality, nutrition, or taste. Rather, the colour depends on the breed of the hen, Bauche says. White-feathered hens lay white eggs, while brown-feathered hens lay brown eggs. If you’re wondering why brown eggs often cost more, it’s simply because brown-feathered hens are bigger and more expensive to raise.
Prevent yolk consumption: If you eat eggs more than once a day, swapping in egg whites in place of whole eggs could be a great way to enjoy their flavour profile while dodging extra cholesterol. But don’t cut out whole eggs if you enjoy them occasionally throughout the week. The yolks contain most of the essential nutrients, and the fat in them helps your body absorb those. Plus, the yolk holds 40 per cent of the protein found in eggs in the first place.
What is in a label?
Cage-Free: According to the USDA, cage-free hens must be housed in a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and water. Cage-free does not mean that the hens have access to the outdoors.
Free-Range: Free-range hens must be housed in a building, room, or area with unlimited access to food and water. However, these hens must have continuous access to the outdoors during their laying cycle. This outdoor area may be fencedd and/or covered with netting.
Pasture-Raised: Pasture-raised eggs should mean that the hens spend most of their life outdoors, with a fair amount of space to roam in addition to barn access. The hens can eat a diet of worms, insects, and grass, along with their feed, which replicates a chicken’s natural diet and environment.
Farm-Fresh or All-Natural: These labels aren’t subject to federal regulation, nor do they have a specific meaning.
Antibiotic-Free: Similarly, all eggs produced in the US are antibiotic-free, even if it’s not specified on the carton. If hens become ill, a veterinarian can administer antibiotics, but these eggs would not be used for human consumption, according to FDA regulations.
Vegetarian-Fed: According to USDA rules, the egg producer using this claim must maintain documentation that the source hens do not eat any animal by products. However, chickens in the wild are omnivores (i.e., not vegetarian) and get most of their protein from worms and insects.
Gluten-Free: All eggs are naturally gluten-free. If the hens producing the eggs are fed a gluten-containing grain, the gluten is broken down during digestion and not passed on to the eggs.
Organic: In order to certify eggs as “organic”, hens’ feed must be grown without most synthetic chemicals; 100 per cent of the ingredients must be certified organic. The hens must be free-range, and the use of antibiotics and growth hormones are prohibited.
Zero Trans Fats: This claim indicates that an egg contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fatty acids, which is true of all eggs.
AA, A, or B: Grading is based on standards of appearance, such as the conditions of the white or yolk and the cleanliness and soundness of the shell.