For many years we have been told about the health benefits of eggs. They’re inexpensive and a great source of protein. You can scramble them, poach them, bake them or whip them into custards or soups. But what about the eggshells? Actually, studies suggest we may be missing out on an essential source of calcium when we throw away the eggshells. They also have other uses around the house. If you want to learn more, keep reading!
What are Eggshells?
We’re all seen eggshells before, but how many of us really know what we’re cracking? Eggshells have three layers. The first is the hard layer, a chalky substance composed almost entirely of calcium carbonate crystals that give the egg its unique curvature. Although eggshells are hard, this first layer is a semi-permeable membrane which allows moisture and air to pass through the 17,000 small pores on the surface. The shell’s fine, outer coating is called the cuticle, or bloom. It acts as a screen to prevent bacteria and dust from passing through the pores and damaging other parts of the egg.
The other two layers of the eggshell are the inner and outer membranes. These transparent and smooth membranes are mostly composed of protein. They are both strong and flexible, and they work together to defend the egg yolk against the invasion of bacteria. One of the proteins is keratin, the same protein found in our hair and the horns of rhinoceros.
Is Eggshell Edible?
Well, the answer is yes, but you need to clean them and make sure to prepare them thoroughly. The bigger question here might be, “Why would I want to eat eggshells?” You need to look at the calcium levels in the shell, because this is what provides most of the benefits.
Health Benefits of Eggshells
Here are some of the most staggering health benefits of eggshells:
- They have anti-inflammatory properties. Eggshell membranes can be an alternative therapy for conditions affecting the connective tissue of the joints, as it helps relieve pain.
- They help protect tooth enamel. Eggshell powder is an essential component in dental studies that focus on the remineralisation of the enamel. Studies show that eggshell powder has lower levels of toxic minerals like mercury, cadmium, aluminium and lead.
- They help strengthen bones and treat osteoporosis. The calcium in eggshells helps make the bones stronger, which will treat conditions like osteoporosis.
- They are rich in calcium. One average-sized eggshell may provide twice the daily allowance of calcium, thus making it a good calcium-rich food. Remember, calcium is essential for the growth and development of bones.
Uses of Eggshells
Apart from their health benefits, eggshells also have a wide variety of uses around the home and in the garden.You can:
- Add crushed eggshells to bird or dog food to add a boost in calcium
- Use eggshells to start seedlings
- Use eggshells to deter garden pests
- Sprinkle eggshells straight into your garden soil to have nutrient-dense soil
- Make an eggshell face mask
- Add it to your dish soap
- Boil eggshells in your coffee
Precautions for Consuming Eggshells
There are some risks or side effects that come with eating eggshells. If they’re not finely crushed, the jagged bits can irritate your throat and damage your esophagus, and if they’re not properly sterilized, they can cause salmonella.
Eating too much calcium can results in an overabundance in your body. Excessive amounts of calcium manifest in symptoms such as low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, vomiting and nausea. Not only that, it may also produce kidney stones. While these are unlikely to happen from food-based calcium such as eggshells, the body does process it more slowly and you should exercise caution.