My favourite and most used ingredients – eggs
Over the next few weeks I am going to share my most used and favourite ingredients and tell you why I think they have contributed to my health and well being despite having type 1 diabetes for over 50 years. I don’t think there is one particular ingredient, rather a combination of different ones that work together to keep all parts of the body functioning well.
Eggs got some bad press over the years, but like many other things this turned out to be completely wrong. Eggs contain cholesterol and it was thought that they should be restricted because of the risk to the heart and cardiovascular system, especially for people with diabetes who have a higher risk of these complications. It is now known that eating foods containing cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol. Our bodies produce cholesterol naturally, which helps to make vitamin D and other nutrients and only about 20% of our total cholesterol comes from the food we eat and that comes from saturated fat.
Up to about 10 years ago people with diabetes were told to eat no more than 4 eggs per week. I didn’t go wild eating eggs but I didn’t stick to those limits because eggs seemed to help to keep my blood sugar stable. If I ate an egg with a piece of wholemeal bread after giving insulin for the bread I generally didn’t have a blood sugar spike after that meal.
“A box without hinges, key or lid. Yet golden treasure inside is hid.” J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit
- Eggs are an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for the creation and maintenance of cells and tissue in the body. Protein from eggs slow down digestion and the release of sugars (from carbs) in a meal. This prevents elevated demands for insulin, which is very important in relation to insulin resistance and the prevention of type 2 diabetes. The type 1 population don’t want sugar spikes either. Protein also keeps us full for longer.
- They contain vitamin A and iron which are essential for healthy eyes, skin and immune system, all of which can be comprised due to diabetes. Eggs contain iodine which helps to keep the thyroid system healthy. They contain choline which helps to maintain the fatty structure around our nerve cells. This helps to reduce the risk of *diabetic neuropathy. Choline is also beneficial for brain health.
- Eggs contain vitamin B2, B12 and iron which are needed for energy, cell renewal and a healthy vascular system. They also contain vitamin D and phosphorous which contribute to the manufacture and maintenance of healthy bones. Betaine in eggs can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. They also contain vitamin E which has antioxidant to keep cell membrane in a healthy state.
- Eggs add nutrition, give structure, raising properties, colour and flavour to baked goods. The balance between eggs and the other ingredients determine the height and structure of a cake which prevents it falling once it is baked. A perfect example is a fatless sponge, which is dependent on the air incorporated into the eggs to give the cake it’s structure. https://theartisandiabetic.ie/recipe/fat-free-sponge/
- Eggs are inexpensive, readily available and can be cooked in numerous ways for breakfast, dinner or supper. If you have eggs in the house you won’t go hungry!
- Eggs are a great choice when eating out because they contain too little carbohydrate to count and their protein and fibre content will generally be the same. An omelette generally won’t contain anything other than vegetables and possibly cheese. A boiled egg can’t be altered!
Scrambled egg and wholemeal bread
Eggs are quick to prepare in lots of different ways:
In omelettes with fresh vegetables (spinach, tomato, courgette, peppers, onion) or leftover cooked carrots, butternut squash or sweet potato as a complete meal. A little grated or finely chopped cheese gives extra protein and flavour. Try adding herbs, paprika and black pepper for heat or tumeric for added health benefits.
Egg muffins are ideal for taking to work/school or make a large one and divide it into portions
Eggs make healthy and pretty party food
Eggs can be boiled and stored for a few days in the fridge for quick meals
I often boil a few eggs and keep them in the fridge for a few days and use them for quick meals or if my blood sugar is being problematic. Egg and salad can be eaten with very little impact on blood sugar. This gives my blood sugar a chance to stabilise.
It’s never too late to start taking care of your health. Eggs are one of the few ingredients that haven’t changed since I got type 1 diabetes in 1965. The diet of laying hens has changed but the nutritional value of eggs remains the same. When I started researching the nutritional aspects of food in relation to diabetes I was happy to see that one of my stables was benefiting me in so many ways.
*Neuropathy can be caused by both type 1 and they 2 diabetes. Neuropathy occurs as a result of damage to the nerves that control muscle movement, touch and the ability to sense temperate. It generally affects the hands and feet but it can also affect nerves involved with digestion and controlling heart rate.
Ref: Diabetes.co.uk; Healthline.com, The Irish Heart Foundation, Dale Pinnock (The Medicinal Chef)