The Incredible, Edible Egg

(Anyone else old enough to remember this TV ad, from the American Egg Board?!)

Eggs have had a rough time of it over the years. Once a mainstay of breakfast tables, a couple of decades ago eggs became the enemy, said to contain high levels of dangerous cholesterol. Egg white omelets and Egg Beaters became America’s go-to breakfast choice, instead.

I like to tell my clients,  I consider a whole egg to be almost a perfect food. One large egg contains:

  • Only 77 calories, with 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein that include all 9 essential amino acids (see? A perfect food!)
  • Iron, phosphorous, selenium and vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5 (among others).
  • 113 mg of Choline – a very important nutrient for the brain, among other things.
  • Large amounts of the antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthine, which lower the risk of age-related eye disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

For the love of all that is holy, EAT THE YOLKS. A whole egg is a complete package, full of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all meant to be eaten together in one perfect little food. Egg whites, while a concentrated hit of protein, lack any of the other good nutrients.

Like most foods, quality is a huge consideration when it comes to eggs. Conventional battery-farmed eggs are lacking in nutrients, and are also a product of a very cruel industry. We buy our eggs at the local farmers market, and I recommend everyone seek out farm-raised local pastured organic chicken eggs. Eggs from these happy hens that forage in pastures, eat bugs, and scratch seeds out of the soil have dark orange yolks that are much thicker than those in store-bought eggs. Orange yolks indicate a healthy chicken diet, which means your eggs are chock-full of healthy Omega-3 fats, carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. (Here’s a nice study from Penn State University, backing up the fact that pastured hens are healthier and make healthier eggs.)

And, don’t worry about eggs affecting your heart health–that’s old, debunked pseudo-science. Recently revised US dietary guidelines are supporting what we’ve all known for years, that eating the cholesterol contained in food DOES NOT raise your blood cholesterol levels adversely. In fact, the cholesterol in eggs can play a role in raising your GOOD HDL cholesterol, if anything. Every hormone in our body is made from the cholesterol we eat, including our sex hormones (like estrogen and testosterone) and our feel-good hormones (like serotonin). Cholesterol in our food is a good thing!

One caveat I must mention. Eggs are in the top 5 most common food sensitivities, along with wheat, dairy, corn, and soy. Unlike traditional “allergies”–rashes, breathing difficulties, things like that–sensitivities can take a variety of forms, and can be very hard to pinpoint. Eliminating eggs is often done as part of a program designed to help clients heal their guts and eliminate food sensitivities.

(Thanks to Garden Betty for some of the wisdom contained in this post!)

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