Did you know that whole, raw eggs are extremely healthy for you?
("Gasp! Horror of horrors! Eat raw eggs? Is she trying to kill us all from salmonella poisoning?!")
Nope. I eat 'em all the time. Have since I was a kid, actually. Really, the way eggs are handled these days--chilled right away, then kept chilled until the time of consumption--the chances of contracting salmonella from them is minimal-to-none. They are a closed environment. (Eggs produced in over-crowded barns that rely heavily on antibiotics to keep the hens healthy may be subject to salmonella contamination. Eating pasture fed eggs that have been properly refrigerated should pose no threat. These eggs are becoming widely available in most grocery stores.)
What about cholesterol?
First of all, let's address why you should eat the whole egg. Eggs are a perfect whole food. We have been warned to limit our consumption of them, due to the high amounts of cholesterol contained in the yolk. However, these dire warnings need only be feared until you realize that our bodies need cholesterol--especially our hearts. The fat around our heart is nearly all saturated. If we do not consume enough cholesterol, our body will produce it.
Consider this article from the Weston A. Price Foundation site; here is an excerpt:
The Benefits of High Cholesterol: People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one´s brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers. Consider the finding of Dr. Harlan Krumholz of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Yale University, who reported in 1994 that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with a high cholesterol.1 Supporters of the cholesterol campaign consistently ignore his observation, or consider it as a rare exception, produced by chance among a huge number of studies finding the opposite.
But it is not an exception; there are now a large number of findings that contradict the lipid hypothesis. To be more specific, most studies of old people have shown that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease. This was the result of my search in the Medline database for studies addressing that question.2 Eleven studies of old people came up with that result, and a further seven studies found that high cholesterol did not predict all-cause mortality either.
Now consider that more than 90% of all cardiovascular disease is seen in people above age 60 also and that almost all studies have found that high cholesterol is not a risk factor for women.2 This means that high cholesterol is only a risk factor for less than 5% of those who die from a heart attack.
But there is more comfort for those who have high cholesterol; six of the studies found that total mortality was inversely associated with either total or LDL-cholesterol, or both. This means that it is actually much better to have high than to have low cholesterol if you want to live to be very old.
Please read the full article for some eye-opening information about why you need cholesterol in your diet.
Now that we know that eating eggs is not going to give you a heart attack, what will it do for you?
Eggs are rich in:
- high-quality protein (including sulphur-containing proteins, necessary for the integrity of cell membranes)
- fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A and D. (Our body manufactures vitamin D from sunlight, but in the winter in northern climates especially, it is difficult to get enough sunlight to maintain proper levels of this vitamin)
- "just about every nutrient we have ever discovered." Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, New Trends Publishing, pg. 436
- "An excellent source of special long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA, which ply a vital role in the development of the nervous system in the infant and the maintenance of mental acuity in the adult--no wonder Asians value eggs as brain food." Fallon, ibid.
- Egg yolk is the most concentrated source known of choline, a B vitamin found in lecithin that is necessary for keeping the cholesterol moving in the bloodstream.
Besides all this, eggs are an inexpensive meat replacement in a meal, and quick to prepare, making them perfect for families with time or budget constraints. My dad says that he likes breakfast so much that he eats it three times a day, and if eggs are equated as breakfast food, I agree with him. (For creative approaches to preparing eggs, I recommend Company's Coming's The Egg Book.)
Look for eggs from free-range, pasture-fed chickens that have been allowed to eat bugs and worms, or eggs that have been produced without soy, and with flax or fish meal in the feed. These types of feed produce eggs where the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids exist in nearly a one-to-one ratio, which is the ideal our bodies want to consume. Grain-fed chickens can have an omega-6 content that is as much as 19 times greater than omega-3s. Other long-grain fatty acids vital to brain development are almost wholly absent in most commercial eggs. (Edit: I just read an article on Dr. Mercola's site that warns against buying Omega-3 eggs, as the form of the fatty acid the chickens consume is ALA, which is difficult for our body to process large quantities of, and does not have the same health benefits as DHA and EPA. See here for the article.)
You know you've got good eggs if the yolk is dark yellow in colour--the darker the yolk, the higher the nutrient content is.
NEVER eat powdered eggs--these contain harmful oxidized cholesterol. (All whole foods in powdered form, such as milk, potatoes, whey, etc. are toxic to the human body in some way.)
According to Dr. Mercola, one of the main causes of egg allergies is that they are cooked. When you consume them raw, the cases of allergy incidences all but disappear.
Some nutritionists are concerned that you should not eat raw egg whites, as it contains a glycoprotein called avidin that binds biotin, a B vitamin, preventing absorption. However, this is counteracted by the fact that there is a ton of biotin in the yolk, proving how remarkable eggs are as a whole food. The excess biotin in the yolk prevents the likelihood of a biotin deficiency from consuming the white--unless, of course, you buy into the "low-cholesterol" dogma of the nutritional bourgeoisie and consume only the egg whites. In this case, you will likely need to take a biotin supplement to prevent the deficiency!
For more about why you should eat your eggs raw, please see Dr. Mercola's article Raw Eggs For Your Health.
'Tis the season
It's that time of year--when the grocery-store shelves become lined with that delicious substance known as "egg-nog"--or at least what passes for it now that most of us are petrified of eating our eggs raw, or eating the whole egg--or eating whole milk, for that matter. (But that will have to be the subject of another blog post.)
I love egg-nog with as much ardency as the next red-necked Canadian. (The next red-necked Canadian being, of course, my European tourist of a brother, Logan. He would stock it in his fridge year-round in Seattle, "the Land of Nog", apparently--at least, when it is not being referred to as "The Kingdom of Over-priced Coffee".) However, I don't want to feel like I'm jeopardizing my health by drinking it from the store, with the cocktail of other ingredients each box contains. So, here are a couple of versions of "healthy" egg-nogs for you to try, in portion sizes for you to enjoy whenever you wish. Enjoy!
Traditional Egg Nog
In a blender, add 2 eggs, 1 tbsp. maple syrup or 2 tsp. raw honey, 1 cup whole milk, 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Blend on high until frothy, pour into a tall glass mug and enjoy!
This thicker version helps you get some of your daily fruit servings, and requires no additional sweeteners. We buy large amounts of bananas and peel and freeze them at the peak of ripeness for recipes such as this and shakes.
In a blender, place 1-2 eggs, one banana (fresh or frozen), 1 tsp. vanilla, a sprinkle of nutmeg, and 1 cup whole milk. Blend on high until frothy and serve.
Healthful add-ins: These can be added to either recipe for extra healthy benefits: 1 tbsp. expeller-expressed flax oil, 1/4 tsp. of liquid mineral supplement
Use same recipe as Banana-Nog, but replace vanilla and nutmeg with 1 heaping tbsp. cocoa, and add 1-2 tsp. raw honey.