There is quite a bit of confusion on whether or not eggs are healthy for us. Conventional wisdom tells us that eggs increase cholesterol, they are high in fat and they’re not suitable for the heart patient. While there is some shreds of truth in each of those thoughts, eggs should be an important component in most of our diets when eaten the correct way.
Let’s first discuss the word that is usually synonymous with eggs-cholesterol. If you have valid concerns about your body’s cholesterol levels, this is a crucial point. Eggs that are consumed the proper way will NOT have an impact on total cholesterol in the body. How can you properly or improperly eat eggs, you might ask?
As I have said many times before, the more we cook our foods the better chance that we start to lose key nutrients in that food. With eggs, the more we scramble them, Sunnyside up them and 4 egg omelet them, the more chance that the cholesterol in these eggs become oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol is found in other things such as processed foods, hydrogenated oils, deep fried foods, fast foods, chips, fries and a gazillion other things that are so darn tasty! This is the type of cholesterol that forms plaque in the lining of the arteries.
However, when we take that same egg and either eat it raw (the egg yolk) or soft boil it, then we are talking about a completely nutritious product that can, according to recent studies, decrease your risk of heart disease. This is the type of cholesterol that our body wants and needs. We always hear about the good and bad (HDL, LDL) cholesterol. Well, this affects the good type.
One egg has about 6 grams of protein and has all the essential amino acids required to be considered a complete protein. You cannot say that for lots of different types of meats and particularly soy.
Some other key nutrients that are found in eggs include choline, which is great for mental function and memory. Additionally, Vitamins A & E which are strong antioxidants for the body, Vitamin B for energy levels and Selenium, another strong antioxidant and immune system booster.
Let’s not forget about the fats that are found in eggs. Initially, we hear the word fat and want to run away. But these are the essential fatty acids that are body requires.
Now that we know eggs, when eaten the correct way, can have enormous health benefits for us, the next debate is whether or not it makes a difference on the type of eggs we are eating.
When we want to find healthy eggs, it is critical that we look for higher quality free-range organic varieties. We always want to look for the organic type, meaning the chicken was fed only organic food and not pesticide ridden grains (mainly GMO corn).
My strong recommendation is to find a local farmer or farmer’s market and purchase your eggs from them opposed to commercially raised chickens found in grocery stores.
There is quite the nutritional difference between organically raised hens to commercially raised hens, including:
– ¼ less saturated fat
– 2/3 more Vitamin A
– 3 times more Vitamin E
– 2 times more Omega-3 fatty acids
Let’s stay on this topic of Omega-3 fatty acids for a minute. We have all heard that these fatty acids are beneficial and while this is true, we need to make sure we are getting the right types of omega-3 in our diet. There are plant based omega-3’s (usually found in eggs, flaxseed, hemp seed and nuts) and there are animal based omega-3’s (fish, fish oil, krill oil). While plant based is okay, most of the health benefits from taking omega-3’s come from animal based sources.
I am not telling you to stop taking your flaxseed (which has ALA) but do your best in supplementing it with animal based sources that have DHA and EPA in it. Again, the health benefits are enormous and most Americans are deficient in omega-3’s.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Most of your health benefits associated with omega-3 fats are linked to animal-based omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, not plant-based omega-3 fats like ALA. ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body, but only at a very low ratio. Even if you eat large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert very small amounts into EPA and DHA, and only when sufficient enzymes are present”.
Unfortunately, most of the eggs that are found in grocery stores have the ALA type omega-3’s, which is a bit misleading.
– Effects on body cholesterol depends on how you are consuming eggs
– Raw yolk and soft boiled are your best choices (You may have concerns about salmonella but if you are truly eating healthy eggs, the risk is minimal. Only sick hens will lay salmonella contaminated eggs. If you just cannot seem to get a raw yolk down, a wise option would be to put it in a smoothie or mixing it up in oatmeal)
– Eggs scrambled, omelets or fried eggs turn into oxidized cholesterol, having detrimental effects on your health
– Key nutrients and antioxidants are found in healthy eggs
– Find a local farmer’s market or someone you trust who is raising hens on their own
– Free range organic are best options
– Don’t believe the Omega-3 claims on commercially produced eggs