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 mainstream”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!
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!
We eat eggs, but we have "issues" with them.
My oldest has a life threatening allergy to the whites so he can only eat hard boiled yolks. Either myself or my youngest have to eat the leftover whites.
My husband is the most difficult. He WILL NOT eat eggs. He vomits if he eats them. I have to work to disguise them in foods and if they are not disguised enough…..
Hard when I can't serve the thing I disguised them in to my oldest son…
If you eat 10 egg yolks for each egg white what do you do with the remaining whites? I switched our family over to a local source for eggs and they are so much better! I don't have to worry about egg recalls due to salmonella contamination, which seems like it happens more and more frequently these days with store bought eggs. If readers want to find local eggs, type your zip code into http://www.localharvest.org
Good article. I have a friend who only eats the whites–I may forward this to her.
Adrienne, your husband may vomit because of egg allergy. Which manifested itself to your son with his egg white allergy.
We have been "chicken keeping" for about 6 months. Starting getting eggs several months ago and what a wonderful hobby. The eggs are gorgeous and delicious–bright orange from the free range. I am giving away eggs to church family. Can you believe my own mom says she like eggland eggs. She has been brainwashed into thinking they are somehow better. She won't research for herself. One of the main reasons we decided to get chickens is for the nutrition of the eggs. We have loved it. It is well worth the extra effort of raising them yourself. I make my own mayo withe the eggs–delish! It is great conversation starter for our guesthouse when we rent it out to families and they love getting fresh eggs everyday.
We get farm-fresh eggs, and there is NOTHING like it – I look forward to my over-easy eggs every morning. The yolks are so thick and flavorful! Great post 🙂
Honestly, I often throw them away. If I'm making scrambled eggs I'd throw them in there (yolks into a smoothie, a couple whole eggs and a couple white to scramble). A few times I've used them in baking or whipped them for frosting or something. If I don't have an immediate use though, they go out. Some freeze them for later use in macaroons or other white-only dishes.
I love egg yolks, especially with toast dipped in them, but they must be solid (well, I've gotten away with runny, but there's a certain temperature that kills whatever makes me sick) for me to eat them, I have a sensitivity… almost allergy. Feels like heartburn and itching inside my esophagus. Granted I've only begun buying free-run/range/farm fresh eggs recently… but always too scared to eat the yolks soft boiled or runny.
We buy our eggs from an Amish Farmer. The eggs are so much more tasty and healthy then the "organic" store bought version. You can really tell from the deep yellow color in the yolk.
I also have a friend who only eats the whites even though I've told her about this repeatedly! I guess you can only do so much…
We have chickens and love our eggs! But the shell color has everything to do with the breed and nothing to do with the way the chickens are raised. You can tell the color of egg the chicken will lay by the color of thier ear flaps. Funny huh?! We have 11 hens and 6 lay white and 5 lay brown. The Americana breed will lay greenish blue eggs. They are so pretty!
Just like Christina said, the color of the egg has nothing to do with how the chicken is raised. We have close to 75 chickens/chicks. Right now we only have about 12 that are laying (our older hens)- we get about 4-5 dozen per week and sell most of their eggs. We have some that lay brown, some white and some Americanas like she mentioned- 2 lay green eggs and 1 lays a blue eggs. In the spring we bought 40 laying hens which will start laying in late summer/early fall, we bought all of these chickens because we couldn't keep up with the egg demand. I can't wait to see what colors the new Americana hens lay we bought 10 because I wanted one that laid blue eggs but we had a hen hatch last summer and starting laying blue eggs this spring. Oh well, customers especially their kids LOVE the different colored eggs. We also have some silkie hens and the have been hatching eggs like crazy and one of our Americana also hatched a clutch and she left them already is relaying in her nest to hatch again. Luckily we have a local market where they auction poultry every wednesday where we will be taking all roosters and most silkie chicks.
I love my eggs and love my chickens. I particularly like my eggs raw in my soups and smoothies. My daughter doesn't function until she has had one or two raw eggs in the morning, the sustained energy boost they give her is amazing. Great post.
Do pastured eggs not have a salmonella risk when eating them raw? This alone makes me leery of eating raw eggs.
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