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**This post has been entered in Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist!**
Few foods have fallen in and out of favor with the mainstream “health” community like eggs. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad. Most people are so confused that they have just ignored the advice altogether and either eat eggs or not, depending on their preference. Of course, the current “wisdom” is that egg whites are better than egg yolks, and one should limit eggs (at least whole ones) to 2 or 3 per week. Oh, and there’s really no difference between store-bought standard eggs and any others; they’re all the same.
Honestly? Just about everything there is wrong.
Are Eggs Healthy?
The answer is a resounding YES! There are not two ways about that. The mainstream reason that eggs are not healthy is because they are high in cholesterol and fat — at least the yolks. And they still believe that eating a diet high in cholesterol causes one to have high cholesterol and have heart disease. But it just doesn’t work that way.
Eating foods that are naturally high in cholesterol — foods directly as they come from nature, like eggs or whole raw milk — do not cause high cholesterol. Nor do they cause weight gain, or any other issues that they were blamed for. It’s the trans fats, or oxidized cholesterol (found in processed foods) that actually cause those problems.
In fact, there are actually four types of cholesterol, ranging from “loose and fluffy” to “hard and sticky” and only the latter causes problems. It’s the former that’s found in healthy foods like eggs!
It’s really too much sugar that causes problems for most, including high cholesterol. Cholesterol is produced by the body — about 80% of what you use. It is produced in response to damage within the body, cause by (among other things) consuming processed foods or foods high in sugar. In and of itself, cholesterol is not bad. In fact, it is necessary to repair damage! It can build up over time, however, like a “scar” if your body is repeatedly damaged. So, it is really poor diet and other lifestyle choices that causes most of the issues with cholesterol!
Why Are Eggs So Healthy?
So now that we’ve broken the cholesterol myth (that makes eggs “unhealthy”), let’s talk about why they are actually so good for you!
Eggs — especially the yolks — are filled with tons of excellent vitamins and minerals! They contain, in addition to fat and cholesterol (which are good for you by themselves), choline, biotin, lecithin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, iron, most B vitamins (especially B12), DHA, other omega-3s, all amino acids (including glutathione, critical in immune function), and vitamins A, D, E, and K.
That’s a major nutritional powerhouse!
The vast majority of these nutrients are contained within the yolk. None of the fat-soluble vitamins are in the white. If you have to pick just one part to eat, choose the yolk. Some say that eggs could completely replace multi-vitamins because of their high levels of nutrition. They’re certainly cheaper than vitamins and much better absorbed, as well.
Preferably, the yolk would be raw, or only lightly cooked. There is evidence that nutrients are better absorbed from the raw egg yolks than cooked.
Raw egg whites, however, should not be consumed (I personally think they’re slimy and gross anyway). They can interfere with the absorption of biotin, a key nutrient (especially in pregnancy and breastfeeding) and they also contain an anti-nutrient, avidin. This anti-nutrient is not fully destroyed even by cooking, so some experts recommend not eating them at all. I personally probably eat 8 – 10 yolks for each white I consume, and the whites are always cooked (yolks raw 80% of the time).
How to Buy Eggs
The type of eggs you buy does make a difference. If you buy a standard egg from a grocery store, notice a few things about it: the shell is white and very thin, easily broken; the shell is usually bumpy; the white is very thin and liquid; the yolks are very small and pale yellow. There are also reports of contamination with arsenic and salmonella on a frequent basis. The arsenic comes from the chicken feed and is added on purpose! After Ben’s arsenic detox (which is still going on but much better now), I don’t take that lightly at all.
Store-bought eggs should be skipped!! Yes, they are very cheap — around $1/dozen — but so what? They have far less nutrition and are potentially dangerous to boot!
A real, pastured egg, on the other hand, has usually a brown shell that is very hard and smooth (they can be hard to crack!); the whites are thick and firm; the yolks are large and deep orange. On occasion you may even get double yolk eggs! These eggs have an extremely fresh, excellent taste, unlike anything you’ve ever had — unless you regularly eat these!
The vast majority of eggs that can be purchased from a store, whether they are organic or “omega-3″ or any other special kind, are not pastured! I have yet to find any brand that I can buy that compares at all to what I can buy directly from my farmer. These “special” eggs, often labeled “all natural,” at the store can cost $3 – $5/dozen and even more in some areas! (Concerned about organic being safe?)
If at all possible, find a farmer locally who sells truly pastured eggs and buy from him. These will be incredibly nutritious, not contaminated, and usually cheaper. If you have the space and inclination, consider raising your own chickens!
Ways to Eat Eggs
There are lots of fun ways to eat eggs. Most commonly we’ve served them scrambled, but that gets boring after awhile. So here are some other ideas to eat eggs:
- Omelets — with lots of veggies and fresh salsa and cheese!
- In smoothies (raw yolks)
- In ice cream (another favorite!)
- Traditional puddings or mousses (which use lots of egg yolks to thicken)
There are lots of other ways too!
Do you eat eggs? Why or why not?
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