Is frying an egg a chemical change?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: July 10, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Table of Contents

Is frying an egg a chemical change? This is a question that is hotly debated by chemists and non-specialists alike. What is the answer to this question? After reading this blog post, you’ll be able to decide whether or not it is.

Is frying an egg a chemical change?

Frying an egg is a chemical change because heating oil and egg at high temperatures leads to an oxidation process that produces free fatty acid (FFA). Also, frying causes absorption of fats and water loss from eggs. Whole eggs absorb 73% and scrambled eggs absorb 88% of oil during frying. Also, eggs lose up to 12.5% of water during frying. 

The chemical changes during cooking can be explained by understanding how heat affects food’s molecular structure.

Heat causes molecules to move faster, causing them to bump into each other more often than they otherwise would at lower speeds.

These collisions cause new compounds (called “fission” products) to form which are not present in raw eggs or raw egg-containing foods like mayonnaise or custard.

For example – this is why fried eggs smell different from boiled ones! During these collisions, some of the bonds between atoms within these molecules will break apart, too – this is called “fracture.”

Is frying an egg an example of conduction convection or radiation?

Frying an egg is an example of conduction because heat is transferred between eggs and cooking oil by direct contact. During egg frying, the temperature reaches between 162–196°C range. The heat content (amount of heat energy available to be released) of an egg white is 0.92 Btu/lb °F and the heat content of an egg yolk is 0.67 Btu/lb °F.

Does frying an egg cause loss of any useful compounds in the eggs?

A recently published research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggests that frying an egg causes a loss of Xanthophylls from egg yolks.

Egg yolk is rich in Xanthophylls (a crucial bioactive compound that plays an essential role in various types of degenerations in our bodies).

A detailed experiment conducted by scientists at the University of Alberta revealed that Xanthophylls are reduced by 19.3% in fried eggs. Similarly, boiled and microwaved eggs showed a 22.5% and 16.7% reduction of Xanthophylls in egg yolks.

Are the chemical changes resulting from egg frying harmful?

In most cases, the chemical changes resulting from frying an egg are not harmful. The chemical changes provide us with a new food product that tastes great.

However, if you intend to use fried eggs as an ingredient in another recipe (like, say, lasagna or stroganoff), then yes – some of these chemicals will be present and may alter the taste of your dish.

Some researchers argue that some of the chemical changes resulting from egg frying can be harmful. But this doesn’t mean that deep-frying an egg is always rotten for us; it depends on the oil we fry in and how long we cook our eggs (and other foods) for.

Frying food can cause several chemical changes; a few of these chemicals are also carcinogenic or toxic when consumed at high concentrations. The temperature required for such reactions between compounds within food varies depending on the type of fat used.

Generally speaking, fats need to be heated around 200C before they start smoking, which indicates their breakdown into harmful chemicals like acrolein and glyoxal derivatives – known carcinogens!

Scientists have even found traces of cholesterol metabolites in the smoke released from cooking oils during heating, indicating its presence in the oil itself.

Cholesterol is a molecule present in all cells of our body; it’s also found within oils and fats! So eating foods that contain cholesterol won’t necessarily increase blood cholesterol levels (this can only happen when your liver overproduces this waxy substance).

However, certain chemicals like acrolein damage DNA, causing mutations that may lead to cancer – so frying with high-quality oils and avoiding overheating them will decrease these harmful effects on food.

How can we reduce the oil content in deep-fat fried eggs?

According to a review paper published in the highly esteemed journal, Trends of Food Science & Technology, there are several ways in which you can reduce the oil content in deep-fat friends foods, such as eggs.

By modifying food surface

The amount of oil taken up by a fryer can be reduced by modifying the moisture loss and oil absorption rates. Many of the chemical reactions occurring during frying can be reduced by covering food surfaces with an edible film.

For example, a thin layer of maltodextrin and whey protein was found to reduce acrylamide levels in fried potato chips by up to 60%! Similar, Corn zein, Corn starch, Rice Flour, and other such coatings have been successfully used to reduce oil uptake during the frying of different food items.

By modifying the frying techniques

Scientists have tested and proved several frying techniques that can reduce oil uptake during frying. Some of these techniques are:

  • Vacuum frying
  • Air frying
  • Ultrasound
  • Pre-drying
  • Blanching
  • Radio-frequency
  • Osmotic dehydration

Among the methods mentioned above, air frying has become very famous in the recent past. There are many benefits of air frying your food. It reduces fat by up to 74% and improves food quality. Ultrasound is a less common method but has reduced the oil uptake by as much as 75%.

By modifying the frying medium

A change in the selection of frying oil has been promoted to reduce oil absorption. Viscosity and temperature are two factors claimed to influence oil absorption during and after frying.

Because high frying temperatures improve the water-to-oil ratio, lowering it may help decrease oil uptake. This can typically be accomplished by cooking at higher temperatures. As a result, using oil with a low viscosity might help to minimize oil absorption.

Final thoughts

So, is frying an egg a chemical change? Frying causes chemical changes in the egg; it’s certainly not a purely physical change. So, we can conclude that frying is definitely a chemical process, and therefore fried eggs are chemically altered from raw ones!

The article has concluded that research on reducing oil intake during frying continues with little progress made so far!

Scientists need more evidence before making any recommendations for people looking forward to cutting down their consumption of oils or fats when it comes to cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, etc., instead of using a lot of fat/oils just for heating foods at high temperatures.

However, there is no argument over the fact that frying an egg is a chemical change.

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