Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg?.(Job 6:6)
Scrambled, poached or fried? The health benefits derived from an egg depend on your answer. But if we focus on a plain old boiled egg, the health news is good compared with a decade ago.
People with high cholesterol used to be advised to steer away from eating too many eggs, as it was believed that cholesterol in foods raised blood cholesterol levels. However, research has shown that cholesterol is influenced by the saturated and trans fat we eat rather than the naturally occurring cholesterol in foods.
It is the ''bad'' or saturated fat content in foods such as biscuits, chips, butter and processed and takeaway food that causes cholesterol levels to rise.
Australian Dietary Guidelines now recommend people consume more eggs and that up to seven a week is acceptable. Eggs contain important nutrients including folate, omega 3 fatty acids, and arginine (a precursor for nitric oxide, which increases blood flow), which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
We need salt to survive. It helps our body maintain the correct balance of fluids, in order to transmit nerve impulses and maintain proper muscle function. But we don't need to add salt to our food. We can get enough from what is found naturally in foods by eating a balanced diet. We know that too much salt in some people can cause high blood pressure, putting them at risk of heart disease and stroke.
Salt is made up of two compounds - sodium and chloride. If you choose to add salt, it's better to use the iodised type because of the body and brain's need for iodine. The World Health Organisation says pregnant women need about 66 per cent more iodine than non-pregnant women. It recommends pregnant or breastfeeding women consume 250 micrograms a day as a total daily intake, which is almost impossible to achieve through diet alone.
In 2010 the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council advised all women who were pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy to take a daily supplement of 150 micrograms of iodine. The only exception is women with thyroid issues, who should speak to their doctor before taking a supplement.
Most foods are relatively low in iodine, so to ensure more people have enough, WHO and UNICEF are recommending universal salt iodisation.
In 2009 in New Zealand iodised salt replaced the non-iodised variety in all breads sold (except organic).
Dr John Eden, endocrinologist at the University of NSW, says: ''We suggest that all women pre-conception and during pregnancy take an iodine supplement ... If you are iodine deficient then your baby could lose 10 or 20 IQ points or be born with hearing difficulties.''
Salt does not have naturally occurring iodine in it. Eden says: ''People should choose the iodine-infused salt; not just women, men too. Men can get goitre if they are lacking in iodine, which is when the thyroid enlarges and can protrude from the neck. You can overdo it, though: if you consume too much you can cause the thyroid to shut down. It's about balance.''