What is eggs Benedict?






An eggs Benedict brunch includes the risk factors for alcoholism, cancer, cardiovascular disease, overweight, salmonellosis, and ulcers. For the exact composition of eggs Benedict, see this site's nutrition analysis.

A mimosa is a part of a complete nutritious eggs Benedict breakfast because two-thirds of the vitamin C in an eggs Benedict recipe comes from the lemon juice in the hollandaise, and that's still too little. In total, eggs Benedict alone offers only 9% (5.3 mg) of the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (60 mg) for vitamin C.

Moderate alcohol consumption has been approved by the American Heart Association for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. But mimosas, other brunch favorites like bloody Marys, and any other alcoholic drink can lead to alcohol dependence. The traditional model of alcohol addiction recovery requires complete abstinence. Alcohol also has short-term effects. Alcohol absorption is slowed by food in the stomach, but it does enter the bloodstream without the delay of digestion, circulating to all parts of the body within minutes. The liver treats alcohol as a poison, breaking up 95% of alcohol metabolized by the body, and in doing so falters in maintaining stable blood levels of glucose to the brain. Alcohol depresses brain functions ranging from balance to breathing.

Alcohol has also been implicated as a cancer risk, and is detrimental to ulcers.

During cooking, sodium nitrate and other nitrates - preservatives found in cured pork products - forms nitrite, which in turns bonds in the stomach with digestive amino acids to form nitrosamines, the leading suspects in stomach cancer. Worldwide, stomach cancer is second only to lung cancer in number of deaths. Cooked bacon also contains the specific nitrosamine dimethylnitrosamine, which is directly administered to lab rats to induce renal and esophageal cancer. Smoked foods contain carcinogenic tars similar to those in tobacco smoke. Proteins seared at high temperatures create the known carginogens benzopyrenes. Linus Pauling believe that vitamin C, found in mimosas, had been found in megadose quantity to protect against nitrosamines formed in the stomach, and that combination of vitamin C and retinoic acid supplements can block the mutagenic effects of benzopyrenes.

Coffee contains caffeine, a carcinogen, and numerous other carcinogens created by the high heat of roasting, such as creosote, pymdine, tars, and polycyclic aromatic. Coffee may contribute to increased breast cancer risk because it has weak estrogenic effects. Sodium saccharin, often used sweeten coffee, is "anticipated" to be a carcinogen for humans, rather than being confirmed as one, since such results are limited to animal studies. However, two other components in coffee, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, are antioxidants, which can help protect against cancer. Decaffeinated coffee is not a cancer risk. The carcinogenic solvent trichloroethylene is no longer used for decaffeination; instead, methylene chloride (dichloromethane) or other safer chemicals are used.

Use of alcohol, found in mimosas, has been strongly associated with a higher rate cancer of the esophagus, pharynx, and mouth, whereas a more controversial association links alcohol with liver, breast, and colorectal cancers. Together, these cancers kill more than 125,000 people annually in the United States. The strongest link between alcohol and cancer involves cancers of the digestive tract. Chronic heavy drinkers have a higher incidence of esophageal cancer than does the general public. The risk appears to increase as alcohol consumption increases. An estimated 75 percent of esophageal cancers in the U.S. are attributed to chronic, excessive alcohol consumption. Nearly 50 percent of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx are associated with heavy drinking. People who drink large quantities of alcohol over time have an increased risk of these cancers as compared with abstainers. Prolonged, heavy drinking has been associated in many cases with primary liver cancer. But it is liver cirrhosis, whether caused by alcohol or another factor, that is thought to induce the cancer.

Cardiovascular disease
With its poached eggs, egg yolks, butter, and fatty meat, eggs Benedict is a high-cholesterol dish, although the American Egg Board, in its document Eggs and Good Health, says that eggs are the best thing since fork-split English muffins. High blood cholesterol can promote atherosclerosis, and thus also coronary heart disease. Arteriosclerosis is a general term for the thickening and hardening of arteries; atherosclerosis, a stage of this, involves deposits of fatty substances, including cholesterol, in arteries' inner linings.

Overweight can have many causes. The most common is that of sustained caloric imbalance: taking in more food energy than is consumed by physical activity. Even the work of digestion consumes calories - this is called the thermogenic effect - but dietary fat, in which eggs Benedict is high, has no thermogenetic effect, so it is stored directly as body fat. No more than a third of total calories should come from dietary fat. Overweight is distinguishable from obesity, which is the carrying of more than "normal" weight for one's height such as to endanger health. Obesity is usually genetic in origin.

Reducing caloric intake should include minimizing high-fat foods and maximizing foods with fiber - practices antithetical to enjoyment of an eggs Benedict meal.

Salmonella enteritidis bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. It passes from infected hens to their eggs, or from egg-handling food preparers inadequately washing hands after defecating. (Or after handling reptiles; if you see a pet gecko while dining on eggs Benedict, run like the wind.)

In June 1998, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that 661,000 Americans become sick each year from eggs infected with salmonella. According to the Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, "most types of salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals and birds and are transmitted to humans by contaminated foods of animal origin. Stringent procedures for cleaning and inspecting eggs were implemented in the 1970s and have made salmonellosis caused by external fecal contamination of egg shells extremely rare. However, unlike egg-borne salmonellosis of past decades, the current epidemic is due to intact and disinfected grade A eggs. The reason for this is that Salmonella enteritidis silently infects the ovaries of healthy-appearing hens and contaminates the eggs before the shells are formed. . . . Only a small number of hens seem to be infected at any given time, and an infected hen can lay many normal eggs while only occasionally laying an egg contaminated with the salmonella bacterium."

According to the CDC, someone infected with the Salmonella enteritidis bacterium usually has attacks of fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting beginning 12 to 72 hours after swallowing the germs. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without antibiotic treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and the victim may be ill enough to require hospitalization. In these patients, the salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The attacks may be more serious to the very young, the elderly, pregnant women (because of fatal risk to the fetus), and people already weakened by serious illness or whose immune systems are impaired.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared eggs potentially hazardous, subjecting them to time and temperature controls to avoid undercooking and commingling -- two steps necessary in the creation of hollandaise sauce. The CDC estimates that in affected parts of the United States, especially the Northeast, "one in 50 average consumers could be exposed to a contaminated egg each year. If that egg is thoroughly cooked, the salmonella organisms will be destroyed and will not make the person sick. Many dishes made in restaurants or commercial or institutional kitchens, however, are made from pooled eggs. If 500 eggs are pooled, one batch in 20 will be contaminated and everyone who eats eggs from that batch is at risk. A healthy person's risk for infection by Salmonella enteritidis is low, even in the northeastern United States, if individually prepared eggs are properly cooked, or foods are made from pasteurized eggs."

There may be hope for a future free of the risk of eggs Benedict salmonella. Prototype diagnostic systems can quickly detect pathogenic bacteria in a food sample.

In his Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain takes a very dim view of hollandaise:

While we're on brunch, how about hollandaise sauce? Not for me. Bacteria love hollandaise. And hollandaise, that delicate emulsion of egg yolks and clarified butter, must be held at a temperature not too hot nor too cold, lest it break when spooned over your poached eggs. Unfortunately, this lukewarm holding temperature is also the favorite environment for bacteria to copulate and reproduce in. Nobody I know has ever made hollandaise to order. Most likely, the stuff on your eggs was made hours ago and held on station. Equally disturbing is the likelihood that the butter used in the hollandaise is melted table butter, heated, clarified, and strained to get out all the bread crumbs and cigarette butts. Butter is expensive, you know. Hollandaise is a veritable petri dish of biohazards. And how long has that Canadian bacon been aging in the walk-in anyway? Remember, brunch is served only once a week -- on the weekends. Buzzword here, "Brunch Menu." Translation? "Old, nasty odds and ends, and twelve dollars for two eggs with a free bloody Mary!"
Fatty foods with low fiber content; and caffeinated, acidic, or alcoholic beverages, separately and in concert, exacerbate duodenal/gastric ulcers. Most ulcers are not caused by such foods but by Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives on the stomach lining, damaging its protective mucus and allowing digestive acids to attack the stomach wall. Antibiotics are the usually successful therapy.