Cracking the Myths About Eggs
Let's crack the myths about eggs to uncover why eggs are good for us, what types of eggs we should eat and how we should eat them to get the most nutritional value.
Whole Egg vs Egg Whites
Many people are weary of eating eggs because of it's reputation of being a high cholesterol food. Others fearing weight gain only eat egg whites instead of the whole egg because of the saturated fat content and dietary cholesterol found in the yolk. The issue is not the egg's fat and cholesterol content but more the common misunderstanding around how the two impact our health.
Saturated fat is vital and beneficial for our health but has been given a poor reputation over the years. A common thought was that if you eat fat, it will make you fat, but there have been many studies that have debunked that myth. There were these false theories linking saturated fat to obesity and heart disease but in reality carbohydrates such as sugar and grains were the culprits. Saturated fat is only bad when it's consumed with sugar and refined carbohydrates because that raises insulin causing fat storage, inflammation and other health problems. While fat and cholesterol has historically been given a bad reputation, the promotion and consumption of refined sugar, processed foods and hydrogenated oils has risen dramatically which has led to significant health problems.
Egg yolks are relatively high in cholesterol but eggs have virtually nothing to do with raising the cholesterol in your body. Even though there is an assumption that high dietary cholesterol consumption is associated with high blood cholesterol levels and Cardiovascular Disease, epidemiological studies reported that dietary cholesterol in general and cholesterol found in eggs have limited to no effects on either. For instance, research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that when healthy adults ate eggs every day, it did not produce a negative effect on endothelial function and did not increase cholesterol levels.
Yolks are liquid gold! Eat the whole egg as mother nature intended.
Egg whites are great for protein but the yolk nourishes us with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vitamins A, B12, D, E, K and are found in the yolk along with calcium, zinc, omega 3s, choline and glutathione. The color of an egg yolk can range from a pale yellow to a rich orange, the more dark and vibrant the better quality the egg is.
What comes first the chicken or the egg?
There can be a lot of confusion surrounding what type of eggs we should purchase due to the many deceiving egg labels out there. There is natural, cage free, organic, free range, pastured eggs and so on. Along with many other food labels, egg labeling is very confusing for the consumer making it hard to know which ones are the best quality. The health, diet and living conditions of the chicken that laid the egg are the primary contributing factors that impact the quality of egg it produces.
For example, if the egg comes from a chicken that is fed antibiotics and a GMO diet of grains, corn and soy, many of the egg yolks nutritional benefits are lost. Unfortunately the label of "organic eggs" can be deceiving because most organic eggs come from chickens that are fed organic grain instead of grass. Pastured chickens that eat grass and are cage free to roam (as nature intended them to) produce the best and most nutritious eggs. You will notice that the yolks of these pastured eggs are a vibrant, orange color indicating the high content of fat soluble vitamins, antioxidants and omega 3s. In fact, pastured eggs have double the amount of omega 3s than regular eggs!!
In the case of quality and nutritional benefit, the way in which the chicken was raised impacts the quality of the eggs it produces. Organic Pastured or Pasture Raised eggs from a local farm are the best eggs to purchase and consume. Quality is key so be aware of the chicken's diet and environmental factors when purchasing eggs.
How do you like your eggs?
Eggs are served many different ways whether that is scrambled, sunnyside up, poached or hard boiled. While the culinary versatility seems endless, eggs are most beneficial when they are cooked for the least amount of time. Runnier the better! Eating your eggs as runny as possible ensures the cholesterol and phospholipids in the yolks don't get damaged. When eggs are cooked thoroughly it can lower the antioxidant availability by almost 50%.
The best way to consume eggs to gain the most nutritional benefit is to eat them raw.
The thought of consuming raw eggs can make people think of one of two things: Rocky Balboa or salmonella food poisoning! Eggs are one of the best sources of dietary protein for muscle growth and muscle repair which is why Rocky's character was shown to be drinking them before his workout. As for food poisoning, the risk of salmonella is very minimal, contrary to popular belief. This is only recommended and safe if it's fresh, clean and the quality of the egg (and the hen that laid it) is best. While eating raw eggs is a challenge, try to consume them sunny side up, poached or with the least amount of cooking possible to preserve the benefits.
Egg-celent Addition to our Diet
Eggs are an incredible addition to our diet. With its substantial source of protein, fat and nutrients, it makes for a great meal or snack. Egg consumption addresses a number of nutrient deficiencies and makes important contributions to our overall health. It also is a health food that is extremely affordable for those on a budget. Eggs are not only inexpensive but they are highly nutritious containing 18 different vitamins and minerals and are a versatile food that people on varying diets can enjoy.