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What is an Egg?

An egg is a body which consists of an ovum enclosed in a blanket of membranes and an outer casing, which aids in the nourishment and protection of the developing embryo. Most of the eggs comprise of a protective layer called the egg cell, the egg white, egg yolk and a number of membranes. All portions of the eggs can be eaten, except the shell, which is generally thrown away. Eggs are rich sources of proteins, and must be consumed by children and young adults on a daily basis. A variety of dishes, both sweet and salty can be prepared using eggs. They can be boiled, scrambled, fried, pickled or even eaten in their raw state. A point to note is that, contrary to the belief, the protein derived from cooked eggs is twice as absorbable as the protein from raw eggs.
Types of Eggs

Chicken Eggs
Eggs form a source of proteins and are widely consumed by a large section of people. The most commonly consumed variety of eggs are those of the chicken bird. All the recipes utilize the egg of this variety, except in rare circumstances. There are a number of types of chicken eggs which are available in the market, as follows:
  • Standard Eggs: These eggs are the artificially produced chicken eggs, which are the most common variety found in the markets. These eggs are delivered by the hens without the help of the rooster. These eggs are available in white and brown shells. The difference in colour is due to the breed of the hens, though there is no difference whatsoever in the taste
  • Fertile Eggs: This variety of eggs can be incubated and be developed into chicks. They are wrongly believed to be more nutritious than the non-fertile eggs, whereas this fact does not hold true. These eggs have a higher production cost, and are therefore costly, and also get spoiled more quickly than the standard variety
  • Organic Eggs: These eggs are derived from hens, who have been given a feed, which has been grown without the use of any fertilizers or chemicals. This makes them an expensive buy, though they have the same nutrition value as the other two mentioned varieties
  • Free-range Eggs: The eggs derived from the hens, that have been reared outdoors, are termed as free-range eggs. They too are costlier, because of the extra costs incurred by the egg producers. They too have the same nutritional value as the above varieties.
Other Types of Eggs

Eggs of other birds are also consumed, some of which include, those of quails, ducks, geese, turkeys and ostriches. These eggs may vary in their shapes and sizes. The fat and the nutritional contents also vary from one egg to the other.
Egg Products
  • Liquid Egg Substitutes: Liquid egg substitutes are used to cut down upon the high cholesterol content of the eggs. As the yolk is the main source of cholesterol, it is generally removed while making the substitutes. Egg whites are combined with tofu, skim milk, starch, etc. to substitute the yolks. These are often used for making scrambled eggs or omelets
  • Liquid Egg Whites: Some dishes require the use of only egg whites. The egg whites are separated form the yolks and are packed in containers, which makes them easily pourable. These eggs are pasteurized, therefore the beating time required is more than the unpasterurized eggs
  • Pasteurized Shell Eggs: These shell eggs are heated for some time to get rid of the bacteria, which may be present. This process does not lead to the cooking of the eggs. These eggs cost more than the normal eggs and are a good substitute for use in raw or semi-cooked egg dishes
  • Liquid Whole Eggs: These eggs are available without their shells. The egg white and the yolk are blended together, pasteurized and packed in containers
  • Liquid Egg Yolks: These are the pasteurized egg yolks, that have been separated from the egg whites. They come of use in recipes where, egg only egg yolks need to be used
  • Powdered Whole Eggs: They are a close substitute for the real eggs. They are very easy to use and store. They need to be mixed in water to form liquid eggs, which can be easily made. These products do not require refrigeration, as they are pasteurized, thereby making them easy and convenient to store
  • Powdered Egg Whites: These are made by freezing the egg whites and then converting them into powdered form. They may or may not contain additives. They have a long shelf-life and therefore do not require refrigeration
  • Powdered Egg Yolks: The powdered egg yolks can be mixed in water to form liquid yolks. They too have a long-shelf life and can be stored easily, without refrigeration
  • Meringue Powder: This powder is made up of dried egg whites, blended with sugar and gum. This powder is pasteurized too and has a long shelf life
  • Powdered Egg Substitutes: These are produced using the egg whites, whereas the yolk is substituted with other low calorie and low cholesterol products. These products may include, gum, yeast extracts, starch, artificial flavourings, and colour
  • Frozen Egg Products, Uncooked
  • Frozen Egg Products, Cooked
  • Pickled Eggs: The eggs are marinated in a liquid solution and are then sealed in a container. Generally, vinegar, pickled beet juice. cider, herbs and spices may be used to marinate. These eggs can be served as an appetizer, or a salad, or even for garnishing.
An Egg a Day....Keeps Ailments at Bay

Though the eggs are high in cholesterol, yet chicken eggs offer a basket full of benefits. Eggs are one of the richest sources of proteins, minerals and vitamins. The protein quality in an egg is better than that present in meat and fish. The other attractive feature is that eggs are low on calories; each egg carries about 75 calories. Eggs have abundant minerals, which help prevent blindness amongst the aged people. Choline is present in plenty in the eggs. Choline is beneficial for the fetus development. It is therefore advisable for pregnant women to incorporate eggs in their diets. The egg white is a rich source of protein and at the same time has less calories.

Other Uses of Eggs

Apart from eating, the eggs can be used for a variety of purposes like:
  • Conditioner: Eggs are a natural conditioner for the hair. As the eggs are rich in protein, they provide strength to the roots. If used regularly, not only does one get healthy hair, but they develop an eternal shine too. Eggs are often blended in henna and applied to the hair. Salons offer many egg treatments like, egg masks, etc. for a lustrous mane
  • Face Mask: Egg masks give the skin a natural healthy glow. They prove extremely beneficial for people, who have a lose skin. An egg pack gives the face a lift and makes the skin look younger
  • Egging: It is the process of throwing eggs at an individual or a group of individuals as an act of, vandalism or in protest
  • Easter Eggs: These are specially decorated hard boiled eggs given out to celebrate the Easter holiday or the spring season. These eggs symbolize a new life
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