Eat Your Eggs – And I mean the whole Egg!

Eggs are an incredible super food. Not only are they are a convenient source of protein but they are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. One large egg contains vitamin B12, vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin B5, selenium, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, vitamin E, folate, choline and more.

When it comes to eggs, quality does count but it’s not everything…

For years, my father and I struggled eating eggs. I would feel sick to my stomach and my digestion would be upset. But I was consuming store bought commercially raised chicken eggs. When we moved to Elmira, we started consuming eggs from pasture-raised chickens and local farms. Both of us have both experienced a huge improvement in how we feel after eating eggs.

Research has shown that the nutrient-density of eggs from pasture-raised chickens compared to commercially-raised hens is much better. Here is why:

  • Vitamin A content is 30% higher (also the more fresh greens, grasses and bugs a chicken can eat the better and the more orange the yolk will be)
  • Vitamin E content is 2 times higher
  • Omega 3 content is 2.5 times higher
  • Omega 6 fats are found in lower levels
  • Vitamin D content is 3-6 times higher due to regular sun exposure

These are all found in the egg yoke so again EAT THE YOLK.

We are so blessed to have so many farms around us that provide fresh farm eggs for a very reasonable cost. In Toronto, we were paying around $6/dozen, whereas we pick up eggs for under $3/dozen.

If you don’t live in the area though, or you can’t afford pasture-raised eggs, know that all eggs, from all sources are still a very good source of nutrition and are absolutely worth including in your diet.

The other awesome benefit is that eggs are just protein and fat so they don’t raise your blood sugar. That is why they are a great breakfast option. Compared to eating a bagel in the morning, those who eat eggs end up eating less throughout the day, have fewer cravings, experience fewer spikes in blood sugar and insulin. They also keep you satisfied and stabilize your energy levels (5).

Now why do most people stop eating eggs? Cholesterol…

Usually, it is because of their cholesterol and they have been recommended to decrease consumption by a health care professional (or friends or family) because they think it will decrease their risk of heart disease. This is very untrue and has been disproven continuously. Dietary sources of cholesterol have a minimal effect on cholesterol levels in the blood (1). Your liver actually produces cholesterol every single day but the amount it makes depends on how much you eat. If you get a lot of cholesterol from food, you liver will make less and vice versa. Also, when people try to decrease consumption of cholesterol (and all fats), this inherently will increase your consumption of carbohydrates (or sugars). But it has been shown that increasing carbohydrates are more closely linked to high blood lipids than dietary cholesterol (or saturated fat).

Eggs may actually help to improve your cholesterol profile. They raise HDL (“termed the good cholesterol”) while changing LDL (“the bad cholesterol”) into a large subtype which isn’t as strongly associated with an increased risk of heart disease (2).

One study showed that eating 3 whole eggs per day reduced insulin resistance, raised HDL and increased the size of LDL particles. (3)

Also of note…your brain NEEDS cholesterol to function. 25% of the cholesterol in our bodies are found in your brain. Cholesterol is required for normal neural function.

Have you ever heard about choline?

Choline is a relative to B-vitamins but it just hasn’t gained much attention and was almost forgotten about– until recently. Choline is an essential nutrient for human health and is needed for various processes in the body such as synthesizing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is also a component of all cell membranes.

It is very important to make sure that pregnant moms are getting enough as it has some of the same beneficial effects on a developing baby that folate does. Research has shown that choline can permanently change, in a positive way, the genetic expression of your growing baby.  Again, choline is found in the yolk.

The problem is that most people don’t get enough choline in their diet.

Now many people only eat egg whites and you are losing out on the potential gain of increased choline (and other nutrients) by doing so.  The other nutrients include folate, B-vitamens, antioxidents (including lutein and zeaxanthin) and trace minerals such as iodine and selenium. Eggs are also one of the few non-seafood sources of DHA which is a key omega-3.

Eggs during pregnancy as a safety issue

Many pregnant women have been told to avoid eggs especially if the yolk is runny after cooking because it could cause food poisoning. It turns out that you’re 8x more likely to get food poisoning from fresh produce then from eggs. (16)

Because eggs are such a great source of choline, they are an easy way to increase your daily intake (unless you just want to take a supplement). Pregnant women should consume a minimum of 450 mg of choline but more is better. If you have the common genetic mutation known as MTHFR it is even more important to get more choline in your diet for your growing baby.

Eggs are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin which protect your eyes

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in the yoke. They tend to accumulate in the retina where they protect the eyes from harmful sunlight (4). They can also significantly reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts which are the leading caused of vision impairment and blindness in the elderly.

Overall, eggs are among the most nutritious foods you can find, they are easy to cook and can be prepared in so many delicious ways.

Go eat some eggs!

Dr. Sarah

 

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19343078
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16340654
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23021013
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27431371
  5. Real Food For Pregnancy: http://realfoodforpregnancy.com