The call, ‘yeeessss kosua ne mekoo’ is very familiar and popular on Ghanaian streets.
As a street snack, egg and pepper as the name suggests is simply a boiled hard egg, cut in half, and permeated with freshly ground pepper, topped with some onions and tomato slices, and hawked in traffic, walkways and market centres, some events and more.
This delicacy or snack is anything to die for, and because it is budget-friendly, one might end up buying more than intended.
It takes God for a person to resist the temptation of not buying more than medically required. Whoever invented this combination, of boiled eggs with pepper needs to be given a medal.
An egg and pepper hawker, Rosemary Elekpo, explains that as sellers, they do more to ensure the eggs and pepper taste nicer to attract more customers.
“For the pepper sauce, you grind with a lot more onions to the tomatoes and the pepper. After you chop some more onions for garnishing. And the eggs, after boiling them, I use starch and salt to make the coating, then I arrange them on the head pan so they don’t fall off,” she said.
When asked the highest an individual has ever bought from her to consume, she said some people consume as high as four eggs at a time.
“Some people buy two, others also buy four” she added.
Rosemary stressed that she is not aware of any health effect that comes with consuming too many eggs and for her, anytime her eggs were not in the right shape for selling, she consumes them by herself.
Although there is a nationwide call for more egg consumption, medical experts have cautioned against indiscriminate eating of eggs indicating that one could be exposed to the health risks that are associated with consuming too many of eggs with pepper.
A dietician, RD. Francisca Ntsiful, at the Redeemer Medical Centre, Tarkwa, advised that although the snack is addictive to consume, moderation is key to avoiding the health risks that come with consuming too many eggs.
“In general, an egg isn’t that bad per se. The egg is a whole meal. By this I mean, usually, most of the foods come from carbohydrates fat and then protein. And all these, you can get them in one egg. So, when you get a whole egg, you are getting a balanced proportion from fat, carbohydrate and it contains some irons as well, cholesterol, Omega 3 fatty acid and the rest making it a complete protein,” she said.
She continues to explain that the combination, of egg, and pepper, that are being sold on streets contain sodium glutamine which raises health concerns.
“With the pepper side, they are vegetables. So, if maybe it’s the normal pepper, onions will come, and some tomatoes will come, that’s fine.
“But if those are being sold, usually try to make the thing [pepper] nicer so that people can buy, in that case, they adulterate the pepper. They add other things to the pepper to make it look and taste nicer. One way or the other, they add more of the sodium glutamine that is coming from the Maggis’, the Ongas’ and the added salt. That raises concern. Even more, you are getting some amount of sodium from the egg itself. So, if the pepper that is going with it has too much of additives and added salt, it will raise a concern,” she added.
When asked about the right proportion of egg recommended to be consumed within a day, RD. Francisca Ntsiful stated that one egg a day is highly recommended for an adult whereas children can take more than one in a day.
“Our bodies produce almost all the cholesterols that are needed. There isn’t any need to add more cholesterol to the system, a whole egg is fine. Just that as an adult above the age of forty-five, as you are growing, the cholesterol that our bodies produce, we are not using it to grow our sex organs or anything of that sought because cholesterol plays a function in those parts of our bodies.
“But if you are a younger adult, one or two a day or at least a little more than that will be fine. But then the older adult, say from thirty-five and above, they are not using that much and the body itself produces all the cholesterol that you will need, about 90%. And we don’t usually use them maybe because of cylindering lifestyles that people above that age don’t exercise that much to use the cholesterol that will from some eggs,” Francisca further noted.
She further added that, if one wants to consume more eggs, it will be best without the egg yolk.
“If a person wants to go more like two or something of eggs, taking it without the egg yoke will be better. That is, taking just the yolk out and having just the egg white with the pepper will be much better because there is no quantum of cholesterol aspect.
The dietician further explained that the heart is exposed to cardiovascular diseases if one consumes indiscriminately; ‘kosua ne meko’.
“Like I said when you are adding more of the salt, you know that sodium is a health concern so we shouldn’t consume sodium so much because there are issues of hypertension. Also, in line with the cholesterol content if you are taking in more of it, its puts your heart in jeopardy because more cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular diseases,” he added.
To her, occasionally cheating in diet will not affect one’s health but moderation is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Well, if once in a while, you are cheating, that is once in a while you are taking more than you are supposed to do which is seldom, wouldn’t be that much of a concern. If you are addicted to it, she added, do it at home. Then you are more conscious of what you are doing. I don’t think somebody will be at home and add all those things [additives] to the food. So, if you want it, I suggest you do it at home,” RD Fransica continued.