By Dr. Mercola
A debatable precaution from the conventional medical community about how to eat eggs was initiated some years ago by scientists who thought they knew nature better than, well, nature.
Beginning in 1961, you may have heard the word of warning that if you were going to eat eggs, it should be the whites only, because the yolks were considered unhealthily high in cholesterol. Dangerous. Bad for you. Risky.
The risky part came with warnings like “spikes your heart disease risk” and “high blood cholesterol raises your risk of diabetes.” Like quipster Mark Twain once said, “It isn’t ignorance that causes trouble; it’s knowing so much that just ain’t so.” As The Epoch Times explained:
“At one time, eating eggs was considered bad for the heart and circulation. This was all based on an assumption that saturated fat was bad …
Any associations between total saturated fat intake, heart disease and blood pressure come down to what people weren’t eating (for example, fruit, vegetables [and] fish) rather than their high saturated-fat diet per se.
The total fat content of even a large hen’s egg (weighing 1.76 ounces) isn’t high at around 5 grams.”1
About 30 percent of the total fat content of that large egg is beneficial saturated fat, while the remainder is monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), which are solidly heart healthy.
Reasons Why Eggs Are so Good for You
The fact is, eggs are considered to be an almost perfect food. Sure, you need to eat other foods as well, but eggs contain an impressive number of nutrients. The yolk is arguably the healthiest part of the whole, as it contains vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, folate and much more choline than the white.
There’s also a good amount of carotenoid content, which is where the yellow color comes from, the most important being the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which lower inflammation and protect your eye health.
Biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin, aka vitamin B7, aids in your body’s glucose and fatty acid metabolism and is particularly important during pregnancy. However, raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which may block absorption of biotin.2
Carotenoids need to be eaten with fat for your body to extract optimal nutritional value from them, which makes consuming carotenoids in eggs ideal. You also absorb more fat-soluble nutrients from other foods eaten at the same time. It’s a win-win.3
The white is largely protein, one of the most important nutrients, oftentimes filling in for the meats that vegetarians don’t eat. Eggs also help reduce your appetite, so you might eat less later, which helps if you’re watching your weight.
Disease remediation from eating eggs is actually the opposite of what they’ve been accused of. As The Epoch Times reported:
“Eggs are a nutrient-dense source of antioxidants, lecithin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (vitamins A, D, B2, B6, B12 and folate) and minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and zinc), which together have beneficial effects on the circulation — including cholesterol balance and blood pressure regulation.
Although eggs contain a small amount of sodium (70 milligrams per egg), this is counterbalanced by an equal amount of potassium to help flush this through the kidneys to prevent fluid retention.”
How Eggs May Help Your Health
Type 2 Diabetes
For people with type 2 diabetes, the DIABEGG study4 determined that you can consume two eggs a day, six days a week, and only be healthier for it.
The aim of the three-month-long, randomized controlled study was to determine if a high-egg diet (two eggs a day for six weeks) was any different nutritionally from a low-egg (two eggs per week) diet in affecting circulating lipid profiles, including high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, among obese or overweight people with type 2 diabetes.
The high-egg group reported more satiety and less hunger after breakfast and, far from having an adverse effect on the participants, there was no adverse effect on the lipid profile.
Another study concluded that egg consumption is beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure.5 The dietary intake of 1,152 participants aged 20 to 84 years was assessed along with their blood pressure, then a follow-up study was conducted three years later.
Of the total number of volunteers, 12.5 percent developed hypertension, aka high blood pressure. Of those, researchers were mildly surprised to discover that the ones who ate the most eggs tended to stay within the normal blood pressure range.
Additionally, the top one-third of those who ate the most eggs were 46 percent less likely to develop hypertension than the ones who ate very few eggs, if any at all.
The Healthiest Ways to Eat Eggs
One of the great things about eggs is how versatile they are. You may have already discovered that, in addition to breakfast, eggs make a great lunch or informal dinner, and kids (generally) love them.
However, how you cook them lowers the antioxidant availability, one study concluded:
“Six weeks of storage at refrigerated temperature did not change the ORAC values, as well as the contents of free amino acid, carotenoid and malondialdehyde (MDA) in egg yolk.
Boiling and frying however, significantly reduced the ORAC value, and the contents of free amino acid, lutein and zeaxanthin, and increased the MDA content in eggs. Our results showed that the antioxidant activity is stable during six weeks of simulated retail storage.”6
Cooking reduced the vitamin A content of eggs by between 17 percent and 20 percent in another review.7
Overall, the shorter the time spent cooking, whatever method you use, the more nutrients eggs retain. Soft boiling eggs or poaching them until just firm are good ways to make your eggs.
You can also cook them gently over easy, leaving the yolk runny. However, the healthiest way to consume eggs, assuming they’re from a high-quality source (pastured organic hens) is raw.
Researchers reported that when eggs are baked for 40 minutes, they can lose as much as 61 percent of their vitamin D content, compared to up to 18 percent when they’re boiled or fried for a shorter period.8
“The retention of vitamin D compounds in eggs and margarine during heat treatment in an oven for 40 min at normal cooking temperature showed retention at 39 [to] 45 [percent], while frying resulted in retention at 82 to 84 percent. Boiled eggs were found to have a similar level of retention (86 to 88 percent).”9
Another study reported:
“Intake of antioxidants through diet is known to be important in reducing oxidative damage in cells and improving human health. In summary, in addition to its well-known nutritional contribution to our diet, this review emphasizes the role of eggs as an important antioxidant food.”10
Raw Eggs Versus Cooked: What Clinical Trials Say
It’s always best to ensure the source of your eggs, particularly if you plan on eating them raw.
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, which develops and shares scientifically proven information about the benefits of healthy eating,11 when you compare a large, raw egg to one that’s hard-boiled, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) nutritional database, this is what you get with the raw version:
|36 percent more vitamin D||33 percent more omega-3s||33 percent more DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)|
|30 percent more lutein plus zeaxanthin||23 percent more choline||20 percent more biotin|
|19 percent more zinc|
A woman would get about 35 percent of the daily choline she needs from a single raw egg, as compared to 26 percent from one that’s hard-boiled.
Choline is a nutrient that many people in the U.S. are deficient in, which is particularly troublesome in terms of pregnant women. Deficiency is associated with an increased number of birth defects. Low choline may also be culpable in fatty liver and muscle damage, but when restored, those levels return to normal. Food Navigator stated:
“Given that 50 percent of the population has genetic variations that make it necessary to consume choline at levels even greater than the AI [adequate intake], there is an immediate need to increase awareness of the critical role it plays throughout life, [choline researcher Dr. Steven H. Zeisel] said, noting that only a fraction of doctors are likely to recommend foods containing choline for healthy pregnant women.”12
When eggs are raised in a healthy way and come from a high-quality source, the risk of contamination is very low. One study found that only 1 in every 30,000 eggs produced in the U.S. is contaminated with salmonella.13
Where Your Eggs Come From Matters
If you want the best there is in quality eggs, “pastured” eggs from an organically raised hen is what you want to find. Otherwise, your options are the grocery store, where the eggs come from conventionally raised chickens, which ups the odds that some kind of harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, is present.
Organic eggs come from chickens fed only organic food, sans the pesticides and GMOs they most likely eat when they’re fed grains and corn. The best situation is for the chickens to have free access to the pasture, which is where they get the nutrients they need, naturally.
A local organic farm is a great thing to find, especially when the organic eggs are laid by hens raised in a pasture with optimal vegetation. Another good solution would be to belong to a co-op in your area, so other like-minded people can work together to maintain a sustainable “clean” egg supply. For help in locating a small organic and sustainable egg producer in your area, try visiting both of the following websites.