When it comes to recommendations on healthy food choices, the last reputable source is often public health. This usually stems from a lack of integrity and biased conclusions forced upon public officials by special interests. Our society's bias against saturated fat and cholesterol has become so strong that we often forget that in nature those are the exact foods where the most nutrients are found.
Eggs are no different and more evidence continues to shed light that their regular consumption helps prevent heart attacks and strokes, something unheard of a few decades ago.
It was previously thought that eggs raised blood cholesterol levels or increased LDL cholesterol. The yolk in a single large egg contains five grams of fat, so many nutritionists assumed that eggs clogged up people's arteries, especially since they also contain dietary cholesterol.
Another myth was that LDL cholesterol is fat when it's actually a protein. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that resembles fat, but has little to do with it. Today, scientists know that cholesterol content in food and the cholesterol in our blood aren't intimately connected at all.
Eggs are rich in vitamins B6 and B5. These help balance hormone levels and fight stress, two things that are crucial to a healthy libido and lowering cardiovascular risks. The fact is, eggs have every vitamin known (expect C) making them one of the few and exceptional foods in this category.
First you must understand that there is no such thing as bad cholesterol in the body. Nothing innately within the human body from birth is bad. There is even evidence proving that people with high so-called bad cholesterol live the longest.
Evidence showing that eating a lot of dietary cholesterol doesn't increase blood cholesterol was discovered during a statistical analysis conducted over 25 years by Dr. Wanda Howell and colleagues at the University of Arizona. The study revealed that people who consume two eggs each day with low-fat diets do not show signs of increased blood cholesterol levels.
Most studies on the elderly have shown that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease at all. On the Medline database many studies address that question. Specifically how high cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis.
This vilifying of cholestoral is a myth we must put to rest because LDL cholesterol is only good and the body needs it. LDL is needed by the body to build new muscle, which is important as we age and can protect the brain as we age; low levels of it can escalate problems such as dementia and memory loss.
Eggs Reduce Stroke Risk – The 5th Leading Cause of Death
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition researchers report that consumption of up to one egg per day had no association with coronary heart disease (CHD) and a 12 percent reduction of stroke risk. These findings come from a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies dating back between 1982 and 2015, which evaluated relationships between egg intake and coronary heart disease (total of 276,000 subjects) and stroke (total of 308,000 subjects).
Principal Investigator on this study, Dr. Dominik Alexander of the EpidStat Institute, Ann Arbor, MI, notes that, “Eggs do have many positive nutritional attributes, including antioxidants, which have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. They are also an excellent source of protein, which has been related to lower blood pressure.”
Alexander’s research lends further support to changes in the recently-released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which have eliminated dietary cholesterol limits, and now include regular consumption of eggs among lean protein choices. It also builds on a 2015 meta-analysis in which dietary cholesterol was shown to have no association with cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease and stroke.
“This systematic review and meta-analysis underscores prior research, showing the lack of a relationship between eggs and heart disease and now suggests a possible beneficial effect of eating eggs on risk of stroke,” Tia M. Rains, PhD.
What Type of Egg Should You Consume?
In one word “raw”. Raw eggs are an inexpensive and amazing source of high-quality nutrients that many people are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat. They're even linked to longevity.
Like most foods, eggs undergo some loss of nutrients when they are cooked. This nutrient loss occurs regardless of whether the egg is removed from the shell (for example, during poaching) or left inside the shell during cooking (for example, during soft or hard boiling). The latest version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutritional database shows the potential advantages to be offered by a raw egg:
Nutrient value of one large raw egg to one large hard-boiled egg:
36% more vitamin D
33% more omega-3s
33% more DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
30% more lutein + zeaxanthin
23% more choline
20% more biotin
19% more zinc
For many nutrients, loss during cooking makes a practical difference. In the case of choline, for example, a woman would get nearly 35% of her Adequate Intake (AI) level from a single raw egg, as compared with about 26% from a hard-boiled egg. While this required B-vitamin is found in smaller amounts in a variety of foods, the average U.S. intake for choline is only 302 milligrams per day, making it important for U.S. adults to maximize their dietary intake whenever possible.
It's also relevant to recognize that eggs are much healthier today than they once were. The reason eggs have become more nutritious over the past decade is that hens are no longer fed bone meal, which was banned in the Nineties following the BSE crisis. Instead the birds are normally given a mixture of high-protein formulated feed, which makes their eggs more wholesome. Regardless, it is still important to stay away from eating any conventional eggs (cooked or raw).
Free-range or “pastured” organic eggs are far superior when it comes to nutrient content, and , testing has confirmed that true free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs. In a 2007 egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for and found that the latter typically contains:
Hens raised on pasture vs commercial eggs contained:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene
The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.
Brown vs. White
Most people don’t know that brown chickens (like Rhode Island Reds) lay brown eggs, and white chickens (like the iconic Leghorns) provide white eggs. The nutritional difference in each breed’s eggs is trivial, so although the brown eggs may have the reputation of being more nutritious, they’re not. The diet of the hen determines the nutritional content of eggs, not shell color. If the animal has been kept inside its whole life, no variation in breed will make its eggs more or less nutritious.
1) Free Range
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined the term “free range” only for chickens, not for eggs or for other livestock, such as cattle.
For chickens, “free range” means the birds must “have access to the outdoors for an undetermined period each day, according to the USDA. In practice, this can mean the chickens live most of their lives outdoors, retreating to their coop only when weather or other factors require them to do so, or it can mean the chickens spend all their time in cramped, indoor pens that have a small door opened to the outside for just a few minutes each day.
Because the USDA rules for “free range” don't apply to other animals, or even to eggs, “free range” on those products is legally meaningless — producers can use the label in any way they want.
Again, it can mean the animals spent most of their lives in wide, outdoor spaces, or it can mean they occasionally got a glimpse of the sun through a small door, but never went outside themselves.
Certified organic eggs come from hens kept on farms which meet and exceed standards of the best free range facilities. Department of Agriculture's “Certified Organic” seal means the eggs come from hens raised in keeping with the standards set forward by the National Organic Program, with an emphasis on animal welfare, land management and the reduction of unnecessary chemicals.
- Organic Feed
The diet of chickens laying organic eggs is comprised exclusively of organic agricultural products, from their second day of life. They get roughage from pasture grass instead of plastic pellets, and they aren't fed poultry-processing by-products. They may receive vitamin or mineral supplements approved by the National Organic Standards Board, but only in amounts calculated to keep them healthy, not encourage unnatural growth.
- Access to Outdoors
On June 17, 2010, the Access to Pasture Rule went into effect for all certified organic livestock. This rule made it illegal to confine an animal indoors except during medical treatment, shipping or to protect soil and water. The rule does not specify, however, what type of outdoor area the animal has access to — or if it even goes outside. While it's better than life in a cage, it's no assurance that the animal has room or opportunity to engage in natural behaviors.
- No Hormones or Antibiotics
Chickens that lay your organic eggs should never receive growth hormones or antibiotics, as this is prohibited by the USDA. However, some producers frequently use antibiotics to promote growth and feed efficiency, as well as prevent the spread of disease throughout the flock. Traces of the antibiotics from your food remain in your body, but when you become ill, there's not enough antibiotic to kill the infection. Instead, the pathogen that runs into the antibiotic traces develops a resistance to that particular drug. So the next time you catch that bug, your prescription may not work. Over time, this leads to strains of drug-resistant pathogens that are very difficult to treat.
- Better Healthcare
Producers who raise organic laying hens are required to provide necessary vaccines to prevent illness, and are required to treat any illness that might occur. In traditional mass-production hatcheries, it may be more cost-effective to slaughter hens, rather than treat illness, depending upon the cost of the treatment versus the cost of the hens. Organic producers cannot take that approach and must administer needed medication. If the necessary medication is not on the NOSB-approved list, however, the producer may not sell eggs from those hens as organic eggs.
However, simply the word ‘organic' on an egg carton can sometimes mislead people to think the welfare of hens meets certified organic standards — when it may merely mean that hens in barns are fed organic grains.
3) Farm Fresh
Chances are, you have access to farm fresh eggs. Whether it’s neighbors, friends, farmers markets, roadside stands, or local farms, many people are getting this breakfast staple straight from the producer.
If you’re concerned that the price is double for your local farmer’s eggs, remember that you’re getting double, sometimes triple the nutrients. Also, keep in mind that for the first six or seven months of a chicken’s life, your farmer is feeding the flock without harvesting any eggs. This is a huge expense to the farm—over a hundred dollars per hen. Since manpower is money, the humane daily care of these young birds costs more than a big operation which keeps them confined and fed by a conveyer belt.
Vitamin D from the sun and the salad of grass, weeds, and bugs can help a hen produce eggs of high quality. Become an expert on the lifestyle and diet of the “Mother Hen.” For example, slick marketing labels like “100% vegetarian fed” sounds great, but means again that the chickens have never been outdoors to scratch around for bugs and clover. This means no natural vitamin D, and a host of other sub-par results.
Is Salmonella a problem if eating them raw?
The CDC and other public health organizations advise you to thoroughly cook your eggs to lower your risk of Salmonella, but as long as they're pastured and organic, eating your eggs raw is completely safe.
The reason people are terrified of consuming raw eggs in any form is they don't understand that the type of egg can reduce their chances of Salmonella infections by large margins. They believe their risk of Salmonella is always high when it is actually extremely low when you choose the right egg.
The Salmonella risk is increased when hens are raised in unsanitary conditions, which is extremely rare for small organic farms where the chickens are raised in clean, spacious coops, have access to sunlight, and forage for their natural food. Conventional eggs, making up the vast majority of eggs in typical grocery stores, have an increased risk for Salmonella, which is why you should never eat conventional eggs raw. One study by the British government found that 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for Salmonella, compared to just over 4 percent in organic flocks and 6.5 percent in free-range flocks.
During the 2010 Salmonella outbreak involving large flocks on Iowa farms, for example, manure was often found overflowing through barn doors from tall dung heaps inside of barns, along with the presence of flies and maggots both inside and outside the barns. It was determined that the chickens straying and pecking in these areas became infected with SE in this way. Spread of infection among hens is increased when a large number are confined to a small space, and SE outbreak problems in 2010 have also been tied to large-scale production facilities, often housing 50,000 hens.
Even with such problems in conventional egg factories, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that Salmonella contamination may be an issue only with about 1 in every 30,000 eggs.
Also, just because an egg contains Salmonella bacteria, it does not mean that you will get a Salmonella infection and eggs are not the only way that Salmonella infections can spread so you might get a Salmonella infection even if you never eat a raw egg.
Don't Ever Separate The Yolk From The White
This is perhaps the biggest mistake made by people seeking to cut out the fat and retain some protein. It doesn't work that way. Compared to the yolk, the white doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of nutrients. An egg white contains more protein than the yolk, but it’s only because the yolk is smaller.
Egg yolks actually contain all the healthy, fatty acids that are contained within the egg. It is a nucleus of wholesome goodness that supplied our ancestors with their sustenance since before they were upright. When you strip away the egg yolk and eat only the white, you're completely missing out on the benefits of those fatty acids like the Omega-3 fats.
Egg yolks also contain over 80% of the overall vitamins and minerals that can be found within the egg as a whole. The yolk also contain enzymes which help the body absorb the protein in the white anyway, so why would you separate it?
Another reason to avoid separating the egg from the yolk relates to biotin. Avidin is a component in egg whites that bonds with biotin, preventing the nutrient’s absorption. Some nutritionists have speculated that intake of raw egg whites may lead to biotin deficiency. Not if you eat them with the yolk
Egg yolks have one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature. So it is likely that you will not have a biotin deficiency if you consume the whole raw egg, yolk and white. It is also clear, however, that if you only consume raw egg whites, you are nearly guaranteed to develop a biotin deficiency unless you take a biotin supplement.
Adding raw eggs to a smoothie is one of the easiest ways to turn any smoothie into a protein packed beverage (and you'll never need protein powder). It's a very convenient way to boost your intake of vitamins (including fat-soluble vitamins), minerals, protein and enzymes at their highest possible ratios as designed by nature.