It’s amazing how many people are still throwing nutritional gold away in the name of “better health.” Every time I hear someone order an egg-white only omelet, I cringe. I know, I know, I shouldn’t judge people that are simply trying to be healthier. It’s just that they’re seriously misinformed…and it’s not their fault! I’m here to set the record straight! Eggs are probably one of the most nutrient dense, perfect foods. Readily available and relatively inexpensive, they should be on everyone’s shopping list (unless, of course, you are allergic to eggs and some people are).
In the 70’s poor eggs were given a bad reputation due to studies funded by….the breakfast cereal industry (AKA Kellog’s and General Mills). The studies were faulty anyhow because they used powdered eggs (a highly processed and oxidized food) as opposed to the real thing.
There is a difference between eggs that come from abused battery hens and those that come from happy, pastured chickens. I am not recommending that we support factory farming by any means. There are plenty of other wonderful sources of eggs available. Check your local farmer’s market or if you’re shopping in the grocery store, choose the organic, free range eggs. You’ll be able to tell the difference when you crack the egg open: the yolk should be bright yellow to orange instead of pale yellow. The bright color of the yolk is an indication of the nutrition that comes from the chicken being able to peck freely in the sunshine and eat grass, bugs, and whatever else is available.
Eggs contain virtually everything we need other than Vitamin C. (For some weird reason, humans, guinea pigs, and fruit bats are the only mammals that can’t make their own Vitamin C). Most of the protein comes from the white and is exceptionally bio-available (we can use it very easily) due to amino acid ratios that are similar to our own proteins. The bulk of the nutrition, though, is in the yolk. Egg yolks contain Vitamin A, Vitamin D (which is hard to find from foods in general), Vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, minerals like calcium and potassium, and a full array of healthful fats, most of which are unsaturated.
OK, so what about the cholesterol? First of all, the link between dietary cholesterol and high cholesterol is faulty for the majority of the population. Did you know that the liver needs about 6-8 eggs worth of cholesterol every day? If we don’t get it from foods, the liver will make it on its own. Yes, that’s right, the liver makes cholesterol…so that must be pretty important for health right? Cholesterol is the building block for all of our hormones. It also provides structural integrity to each cell in our body. If we eat cholesterol, the liver can focus on doing the thousands of other tasks it must do to keep us healthy. So give your liver a break and eat some cholesterol! For more information on cholesterol, check out The Cholesterol Myths by Dr. Uffe Ravnskov.
Furthermore, eggs contain lecithin, which acts as an emulsifier to cholesterol. In other words, lecithin prevents cholesterol from becoming clumpy or oxidizing. Once again, nature provides the answers within her own design…the perfect food.
So enjoy your eggs, guilt free! To keep the yolks from oxidizing, the best way to eat them is poached, soft, or hard-boiled. If you’d like to cook an omelet, frittatta, or scramble, keep the heat low, and make sure you never let the oil smoke. Keep an eye out for great egg recipes to come soon on this blog.