<UPDATED 5/21/11: Eventhough I choose a “healthy vegan” Eating Lifestyle, I used to consume eggs religiously and I can comprehend their nutritional benefit. I also realize that all you readers are not going to all be vegan, so I left the article up because it was one of the first blog posts I wrote about and I do think you should find this article informative. I wanted to educate people on why eggs were healthy on the matter of cholesterol, since that is where they have their bad rep. My personal beliefs and Eating Lifestyle work for me, and although I do not consume eggs anymore, I do think if you choose to, you should be well informed. >
Eggs seem to be one of the most controversial foods. Do they raise cholesterol? Do they lower cholesterol? Are they fattening? Should you just eat egg whites? What’s the difference between white and brown eggs? Did they come first before the chicken or after? Who knows?
Well, I get into this conversation a lot with people…especially with my dad, who I have to gloat about, has started using cage-free brown eggs (daughters can be pretty persistent!)
So, here is the skivvy on the egg deal. Egg yolks contain lecithin, which is a lipid component and lecithin helps to digest fat. Sounds pretty cool, right? The egg came to us in a perfect package, so don’t discard those nutritious yolks, people! True, they are high in cholesterol, so if you do have problems with cholesterol, watch your intake (RDA suggests no more than 300 milligrams/day and 1 egg contains roughly 212 milligrams of cholesterol).
Our bodies produce cholesterol as a cooling agent to soothe inflammation. Inflammation occurs when you have a diet rich in acidic foods (highly processed foods, animal products, caffeine, soda, etc-we call this the SAD diet or Standard American Diet). If you are eating commercial, standard eggs (white, come from commercial farms vs organic), these can promote inflammation due to the additives in these particular eggs.
The chickens on these farms are fed a diet of corn, kept in horrible living conditions where they have no room to roam freely. They peck at each other due to close proximity and are therefore fed antibiotics to prevent them from getting infections. Well, the old saying “you are what you eat” rings especially true here. As a consumer of commercial eggs, you ingest what the chickens ingest; antibiotics, GMO (genetically modified) corn products, pesticides from their food, and hormones, which are used to promote their growth. This PROMOTES inflammation, causing your body to produce more cholesterol. This is why docs sometimes urge people to stay away from eggs due to high cholesterol. Only 3% of cholesterol comes from diet, meaning we produce the rest! Our bodies are incredible, aren’t they?
Now, on the flip side, if you are buying organic, cage-free eggs, these can be extremely beneficial. Eggs offer an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals; vitamin K, B vitamins, vitamin D, and in 1 egg, there is roughly 7 grams of protein, and 78 calories. Eggs contain roughly 10 grams of fat for 1 large egg, which sounds like a lot, but we need fat (good fat-even saturated in moderation is important) for proper brain function. Fat offers a protective layer, regulates our body temperature and plays a role in hormone function. Eating a good quality, organic egg can be exceptionally healthy. I have eggs every day and as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, they are a great source for my B-vitamins, especially B-12, which is what a lot of vegetarians lack in their diets.
Check out Glaum Egg Ranch at http://www.glaumeggranch.com/
This is a local for me, up here in the Bay, but it gives you an idea of what an organic egg farm looks like and stands for.
Organic Valley is another organic farm company and on their site, you can type in your zip code to find out where to buy their eggs:
Murray, Michael, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Atria Books, New York, 2005
Birang, Nancy, Bauman College lecture, 1/23/08