At the Healthy Food Club we are hearing concerns such as these very often form our new Members, who have only just began their journey to health and find themselves overwhelmed by the amounts of information contradicting the many popular beliefs. My friend’s comment this morning as she watched me devour three raw eggs in a glass of milk followed by three more eggs sunny side up inspired me to share some valuable information to dispute these fears and highlight the wonderful benefits of eggs, one of nature’s super foods.
Eggs have provided mankind with high-quality protein and fat-soluble vitamins for millennia. Healthy eggs contain high quality proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. And, according to new research, you can also add antioxidant properties to the list. The antioxidant properties are due to the presence of two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine.
Egg yolks are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, a class of carotenoids that offer powerful prevention against age-related macular degeneration; the most common cause of blindness.
Research also illustrates how destructive cooking is. The antioxidant properties were reduced by about 50 percent when the eggs were fried or boiled, followed by microwaving, which resulted in an even greater reduction.
The idea that eggs, as a source of saturated fats, are unhealthy and promote heart disease is a complete myth. While it's true that fats from animal sources contain cholesterol, this is not necessarily something that will harm you. On the contrary, the evidence clearly shows that eggs are one of the most healthful foods you can eat.
Although egg yolks are relatively high in cholesterol themselves, numerous studies have confirmed that eggs have virtually NOTHING to do with raising YOUR cholesterol. For instance, research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that, in healthy adults, eating eggs every day did not produce a negative effect cholesterol levels.
When Broken into a bowl, the egg should have a dark yellow yolk that stands up in a round hemisphere. The white should have two clearly defined sections – a more viscous part surrounding the yolk and a thinker area on the perimeter. I buy my eggs from Miller’s unwashed – once an egg shell is washed, it strips the egg of its natural protection. If you feel like you must wash them, this should be done only immediately before using them.
It is fine to eat raw fresh egg yolks, bur raw egg whites should only be consumed on occasion. They contain a substance called avidin which inhibits absorption of biotin, a B vitamin and can also interfere with protein digestion. These anti-nutrients in egg whites are neutralized by light cooking.
Here are some informative links relating the most common questions our Farm Food Club Members ask.
3) Video: Difference between "Pastured" vs "Free Range"
4) The Egg and Cholesterol Myth
5) Raw Eggs for Your Health by Dr. Mercola
6) Epigenetics: Nutrients in eggs affect gene expression
7) 20 Egg Recipe Ideas by Gnowfglins
Not All Eggs are Created Equal
If you read all the way here you already know that:
Free-range or “pastured” organic eggs are far superior when it comes to nutrient content, and cooking destroys many of these nutrients, so ideally, you’ll want to consume your eggs raw (but ONLY if they’re pastured organic, as conventionally-raised eggs are far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella)
An egg is considered organic if the chicken was only fed organic food, which means it will not have accumulated high levels of pesticides from the grains (mostly GM corn) fed to typical chickens. Additionally, 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 commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contains:
- 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.
Should You Refrigerate Your Eggs?
Contrary to popular belief in the USA, fresh pastured eggs that have an intact cuticle do not require refrigeration, as long as you are going to consume them within a relatively short period of time.
This is well known in many other countries, including parts of Europe, and many organic farmers will not refrigerate their eggs. In the U.S., refrigeration of eggs became the cultural norm when mass production caused eggs to travel long distances and sit in storage for weeks to months before arriving at your local supermarket.
Additionally, the general lack of cleanliness of factory farms increases the likelihood that your eggs have come into contact with pathogens, amplifying the need for both disinfection and refrigeration.
So, if your eggs are fresh from the organic farm, you can simply leave them on the counter or in a cool cupboard. The shelf life for an unrefrigerated egg is around 7 to 10 days. When refrigerated, they'll stay fresh for 30-45 days.
How to Eat Eggs for Max Health Benefits
Quite a few people are allergic to eggs, but Dr. Mercola believes this is because they are cooked. When you heat the egg, the protein changes its chemical shape, and this type of distortion can easily lead to allergies. When consumed in their raw state, the incidence of egg allergy virtually disappears.
This distortion may be further magnified depending on the manner in which it's cooked. Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam, which heats your food. But it also changes your food's chemical structure in ways that regular cooking does not.
Remember, that most of the nutrition in an egg is in the yolk, not the white which is merely protein and many have a texture problem when eating them raw. The yolk on the other hand is loaded with nutrients, like bioflavonoids, brain fats like phosphatidyl choline, powerful antioxidants and sulfur.
What about the Risk of Salmonella?
The salmonella risk is primarily heightened when the 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.
The salmonella risk can be high in conventional eggs, however, which is why I advise against eating 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.
Dr. Mercola strongly encourages you to AVOID ALL omega-3 eggs, as they are some of the least healthy for you. These eggs typically come from chickens that are fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Also, omega-3 eggs perish much faster than non-omega-3 eggs.
Definitely, eating eggs is necessary and important to do it in the right way.