Why Do We Eat Eggs for Breakfast?
Posted on: April 12th 2022
Eggs have been a favorite breakfast food for centuries. As one of the simplest food sources available during ancient times, eggs quickly became a go-to meal in early civilizations. Now that most of us don’t live on farms anymore, why do we still eat eggs for breakfast so frequently?
Below, you’ll learn about the history of breakfast, why we eat eggs for breakfast, and the top benefits of having eggs with your morning meal. Keep reading to find out how this humble breakfast item grew to be so popular and how you can enjoy the benefits of a delicious egg breakfast today.
The History of Breakfast
If you want to know why we eat eggs for breakfast, you first need to understand the history of breakfast in general. While the tradition of having a morning meal dates back to ancient times, “breakfast” did not become a common term until the 15th century. The word literally means breaking the fasting period of the night that just ended.
How did we arrive at this modern concept of breakfast? Check out the sections below to learn more about ancient breakfast practices and the morning meal’s evolution.
Breakfast Origin Stories
Here’s a breakdown of what the first meal of the day looked like in ancient cultures.
- Ancient Egypt: In Ancient Egypt, the poor would usually eat a morning meal comprised of soup, onions, eggs, bread, and beer before going to work in the fields or for the pharaoh.
- Ancient Greece: Much of Ancient Greek literature mentions soup as a morning meal. Typically, people would eat a meal shortly after waking up, possibly consisting of barley bread, eggs, wine, figs, or olives.
- Ancient Rome: Ancient Roman breakfasts usually consisted of leftovers from the night before, such as cold meat, cheese, eggs, bread, olives, nuts, and raisins. Roman soldiers often had porridge for breakfast, made by pounding wheat or barley and cooking it in a cauldron of water.
The Evolution of Breakfast
By the Middle Ages, most Europeans did not regard breakfast as a necessary meal. Instead, they stuck with eating two formal meals per day, typically at midday and in the evening.
Occasionally, children, the sick, the elderly, or working men would eat breakfast. However, people generally tried to avoid the morning meal because it meant that you were a poor, low-status laborer who needed the extra calories to sustain the morning’s workload.
Breakfasts during the Middle Ages usually consisted of bread and cheese without any meat. For protein, some farmers in the Middle Ages may have had a single large boiled egg with their breakfast, washed down with “small beer.”
However, by the 15th century, noblemen began to catch onto how good breakfast could be. These higher-status men started indulging in breakfasts that often included meat, making a morning meal more of a common practice. By the 16th century, breakfast became a customary practice in Europe and began looking more like our modern conception of a continental breakfast.
In this way, the classic American breakfast began in Europe. The European custom of starting the day with a continental breakfast came with the early colonizers when they sailed to America. For these early Americans, breakfast was primarily a matter of convenience, consisting mainly of leftovers from the night before and easy-to-prepare dishes like eggs, bread, and preserved meats.
As colonial America began developing into a more robust culture complete with distinct class markers, breakfast evolved with it. While the changes were slow at first, breakfast food soon came to symbolize luxury. Wealthier citizens ate foods designated specifically for breakfast instead of leftovers from the night before.
Soon, the Industrial Revolution began to shape our modern breakfast concept by changing food preservation, the workday structure, and cultural ideas of health. In particular, the invention of Corn Flakes in the late 1800s is primarily responsible for shifting the general view on breakfast at that time.
Corn Flakes capitalized on many of the main factors of industrialization, including the rampant growth of advertising, the rise of cheap sweeteners, and the increasing accessibility of refrigeration for milk. Cereal also became a popular breakfast choice because technological innovation had changed labor in America.
The Industrial Revolution standardized when people worked and ate, making convenient, prepackaged foods more appealing. As formalized labor added to commute times and started integrating women into the workforce, pouring a bowl of cereal became an easy solution for the morning meal.
Today, technological advancements have made breakfast foods more eclectic than ever. While cereal and other prepackaged breakfast foods used to be our go-to for a quick and easy breakfast, modern cooking methods like microwaves and toasters have made it equally convenient to have other foods in the morning, like eggs or a breakfast sandwich.
In addition, many people have begun to recognize the lack of nutritional value and high sugar content found in prepackaged breakfast items. Much of cereal’s early sales success is due to excellent marketing filled with colorful mascots and catchy jingles that appealed to kids. Now, having a healthier breakfast has become more of a sign of wealth than a bowl of cereal.
Though our breakfast food selection often remains a matter of convenience, we can essentially choose whatever type of food we want for breakfast. Whether we prefer having traditional bacon and eggs for breakfast or cold pizza from the night before, we have the refrigeration and cooking tools we need to make virtually anything for breakfast.
This freedom to experiment with breakfast foods has led to countless culinary creations, such as omelets, strata, and even avocado toast. Provided you plan your morning schedule well, you can have a delicious and nutritious breakfast every day.
So, Why Do We Eat Eggs for Breakfast?
Now that you understand the basics of how breakfast came to be the morning staple we know and love today, it’s time to get specific about the role eggs play in breakfast’s history. From ancient cave drawings to the modern breakfast table, eggs have played a crucial role in almost every culture and every era.
People have eaten eggs from various bird species throughout recorded history. The ancestors of the domesticated chickens we rely on today for eggs trace back to South and Southeast Asia before 7,500 BCE. By 246 BCE, the Chinese had already invented duck egg incubators.
Eggs naturally became a breakfast staple because chickens and most other birds lay their eggs in the morning, and it made sense for farmers to eat the eggs at their freshest. As discussed earlier, breakfast began as a meal for menial workers, meaning it was mostly farmers and laborers eating breakfast anyway.
These hard workers also needed slow-metabolizing energy sources, such as protein and fat, to power them through their day, which eggs provided. Along with being an excellent source of high-quality protein, eggs were a cheaper alternative to meat. Also, raising hens does not require much land, making it cost-effective to use them for producing eggs for breakfast.
Eggs’ nutritious and inexpensive nature made them an ideal breakfast choice for the world’s earliest workers. By the 15th and 16th centuries, eating eggs for breakfast had caught on in Western culture, and egg recipes became more widespread. Then, in 1620, an English medical writer named Tobias Venner recommended eating poached eggs for breakfast, causing people to recognize the health benefits of starting the day with eggs.
Later, in 1669, one of the oldest known cookbooks, The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened, promoted eggs as one of the best breakfast foods. Sir Digby, who was chancellor to Queen Henrietta Maria, suggested having two poached eggs with your morning meal.
These glowing recommendations from prominent public figures helped eggs start earning the appreciation they deserved from society’s upper classes. In the following section, you’ll learn how eggs continued to gain traction as a breakfast centerpiece and how they turned into the morning meal mainstay they are today.
The Modern Egg Breakfast
Once the Industrial Revolution began in the Western world and breakfast, in general, became more popular, eggs once again emerged as an essential breakfast food for providing factory laborers with enough sustenance to get through a grueling workday. However, at this point, eggs also became a highly sought-after breakfast item for the rich as a way to show off their wealth.
The wealthy of the late 19th century had the means to afford plenty of household help, transported ingredients, technologically advanced kitchen gadgets, and electricity, all of which they were eager to show off at each meal. Elaborate breakfasts composed of fancy egg dishes gave the rich the perfect opportunity to start their day in luxury.
In addition, the newly formed middle class began to imitate the habits of the rich by attempting to cook elaborate breakfasts themselves. Omelets were often a staple breakfast dish of the wealthy and those hoping to appear wealthy. The truly wealthy would indulge in multi-course breakfasts prepared by an assemblage of servants.
Despite their newfound role in morning excess, eggs remained a frugal breakfast solution for those of any class. As an elegant yet affordable breakfast food, eggs continued to grow in popularity with thrifty housewives. Even after cereal made its debut as a convenient, prepackaged breakfast alternative, eggs remained a major player in breakfast lineups across the country.
In the 20th century, both World Wars and brilliant marketing helped eggs remain a beloved breakfast main. During World War I, government campaigns encouraged Americans to raise hens in their backyards to help produce extra eggs for soldiers. World War II would bring similar charges for increased egg production among civilians.
After World War II, egg production became more and more mechanized and commercialized. In addition, diners began offering 24-hour breakfast menus featuring iconic egg dishes. This broader availability and accessibility of eggs led to significantly increased egg consumption among Americans.
Since claiming their spot as a chief breakfast food, eggs have sustained their fair share of bad press, including multiple debates over whether they positively or negatively impact your health. However, eggs have remained steadfast as an essential ingredient for a good morning. Whether you prefer a simple egg-and-bacon breakfast or a more complex quiche, eggs have solidified their spot as a star player on the breakfast menu.
Check out the next section to discover the truth about whether eggs are good for you and the advantages this breakfast staple has to offer.
Benefits of Eating Eggs for Breakfast
Now that you’re an expert on the history of humans eating eggs for breakfast, here are the top 10 reasons you should start your day with eggs.
1. Eggs Are Nutritious
Eggs provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Regularly eating eggs can help you maintain a well-balanced diet. The egg whites and the yolk contain six grams of high-quality protein, offering all nine essential amino acids. Eggs are also an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals.
Some primary vitamins and minerals that eggs provide include:
- Vitamins B12 and D
- Pantothenic acid
From a nutritional standpoint, whole eggs are one of the best foods to have for breakfast.
2. Eggs Can Help With Weight Management
Getting enough protein helps with weight management by increasing muscle mass, lowering blood pressure, aiding bone development, and keeping us feeling full throughout the day. Despite being high in nutrients, eggs are low in calories. Specifically, one whole egg contains only about 70 calories.
Because eggs contain the highest-quality protein but not many calories, they can help you maintain a healthy weight. Some studies have shown that people who have eggs for breakfast may lose up to 65% more weight than those who break their fast with bagels.
3. Eggs Raise Good Cholesterol Levels
Though eggs have gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, they can increase your levels of beneficial cholesterol. HDL cholesterol can lower the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other health issues. One study found that eating two eggs per day for six weeks upped HDL levels by 10%.
LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol you have to watch out for, as it can build up in the arteries and cause health issues. However, eating cholesterol affects everyone differently, and research has found that eating eggs does not raise cholesterol levels in the blood for about 70% of people. As long as you consume eggs in moderation, you most likely won’t struggle with LDL cholesterol.
4. Eggs Can Help Your Memory
The choline found in eggs is an essential nutrient for brain development and function. Choline is a water-soluble vitamin that the body uses to build cell membranes and produce signaling molecules in the brain. In addition, choline may boost memory retention, recall capabilities and general alertness.
5. Eggs Promote Good Eyesight
If you want to maintain your eyesight, make whole eggs your go-to snack. Egg yolks offer generous amounts of two antioxidants, leutin and zeaxanthin, that help protect your eyes from damage related to UV exposure. These antioxidants can also reduce the risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration with age.
6. Eggs Might Help Your Heart
Despite past misconceptions, researchers have not found a direct link between egg consumption and stroke or heart disease. Some studies suggest that people who stick to a low-carbohydrate diet and eat eggs tend to have a lower heart disease risk. These findings indicate you can make eggs a part of your heart-healthy dietary pattern.
7. Eggs Are a Filling Morning Meal
Because eggs are an excellent protein source, having them for breakfast can help power you through your morning. As an exceptionally filling meal, eggs can help keep you feeling satisfied until lunchtime so you can focus on being productive, not your growling stomach. Whether you have scrambled eggs, an omelet, or some other egg-based dish, you’ll be glad you chose eggs for breakfast.
8. Eggs Are Cost-Effective
In general, eggs are relatively inexpensive. Especially compared with other high-protein foods like red meat, egg cartons offer far more value per unit. Eggs are an excellent example of how healthy eating doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. In this way, cooking eggs for breakfast can be both a budget- and waist-friendly solution.
9. Eggs Are Easy to Make
Eggs are easy to make and don’t require a ton of time in the morning. When you use the microwave, whipping up some scrambled eggs hardly takes any longer than pouring a bowl of cereal. Many egg recipes are also easy to make at the beginning of the week, so you have quick grab-and-go breakfasts all week long.
If you need fast and easy-to-follow recipes for egg dishes, check out the following:
- How to cook a perfect sunny-side-up egg
- How to cook a perfect hard-boiled egg
- How to cook jammy eggs
- Basic scrambled eggs recipe
- Basic deviled egg recipe
- Easy classic omelet recipe
10. Eggs Are Delicious
Along with being nutritious, inexpensive, and easy to make, eggs are delicious. While classic egg dishes like hard-boiled eggs and scrambled eggs can be hard to beat, there’s a whole culinary world beyond these cooking techniques. Eggs are an extremely versatile ingredient you can use to create dishes bursting with complex flavors. From a frittata or quiche to egg curry or eggnog, your egg-based recipe options are limitless.
Give these egg recipes a try if you’re craving something a bit more elaborate:
- Classic eggs Benedict
- Basic cheesy frittata
- Creamy broccoli-and-cheese quiche
- Mexican chorizo breakfast tacos
- Spinach-and-cheese strata
Get High-Quality Eggs From Sauder’s Eggs
Eggs can be the star of your next breakfast. The consistent popularity of this tasty, nutrient-dense food throughout history proves eggs are a breakfast food unlike any other. If you want to experience the benefits of having eggs for breakfast, stock up on high-quality eggs from Sauder’s Eggs.
When you buy Sauder’s Eggs, you can be confident that you’re getting farm-fresh eggs from a dependable source. We partner directly with local farmers to deliver the highest-quality eggs possible to your breakfast table. With the Sauder process, fresh eggs go straight from one family to yours.
Check out our online store locator to find the Sauder’s Eggs retailer closest to you and get cooking today!