Put all your eggs in your fuel basket - eggs are a superfood

Easter is normally the time when people eat more eggs than usual. Some still restrict themselves because of being scared of possible health risks.

Others just hate doing the peeling because fresh eggs don’t peel well; they usually rip some of the outer layers off with the shell, very annoying as it takes much longer. Fortunately, one lady has done some experimenting and found the best way to get fresh eggs to peel easily and cleanly is steaming them in their shells. Here is the full experiment.

Did you know that eggs are filled to the brim with valuable nutrients? Eggs are similar to breast milk by nature; intended to deliver as many important nutrients as possible to help new life grow, after all an egg has everything needed to make a new chicken.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

An average egg contains:

  • around 6g protein in the egg white
  • essential amino acids
  • magnesium is mainly in the white of the egg
  • vitamin A, essential for normal growth and development (yolk)
  • vitamin E, protects against heart disease and some cancers  (yolk)
  • beta-carotene (yolk)
  • iodine, for making thyroid hormones (yolk)
  • phosphorus, essential for healthy bones and teeth (yolk)
  • excellent source of B vitamins, needed for vital functions in the body (yolk)
  • copper, majority is in the yolk
  • vitamin D which promotes mineral absorption and good bone health (yolk)
  • calcium, folate, iron of which nearly all of it is in the yolk
  • Tryptophan, which promotes the formation of serotonin and affects mood-lifting (yolk)
  • Carotenoids: Lutein and zeaxanthin, important for eye health, especially important to those susceptible to developing macular degeneration and eye cataracts. (yolk)

The majority of these valuable nutrients is in the yolk; therefore it seems absurd to only eat the egg whites.

 

Why you shouldn’t eat just any average egg

Eggs from chickens that are allowed to eat their natural diet by picking for bugs and worms by being able to roam around on ample grassland have much denser nutritional profile than an egg from a cage raised hen.

Look for eggs from pasture raised hens.  The next best thing is free range or organic eggs, although it is not a given that these chickens were outside just eating bugs and worms, often they get fed with corn, soy and or grain.

If you find you do not tolerate eggs very well it is worthwhile checking what the chickens you get the eggs from eat because many people that are sensitive to soy are also sensitive to eggs from soy fed animals.

 

Comparative nutrient content conventional egg vs. pastured egg:

 Nutrient Conventional egg  Pastured egg
 Vitamin A  487IU  792IU
 Vitamin D  34IU  136- 204IU
 Vitamin E  0.97mg  3.73 mg
 Omega -3 fatty acids  0.22 g  0.66 g
 Beta – Carotene  10mcg  79mcg

 

The significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits. Often people supplement with fish oil that contain certain ratios of EPA and DHA to get those benefits.

 

Are eggs healthy?

Many people are scared to eat eggs more than once in a while. Given what we have just looked at above eggs make a very good source of nutrients.

Why should eggs be unhealthy?  The main concerns people have  are from listening to the mainstream media who have demonised cholesterol, saturated fat and arachidonic acid.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What about the cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a vexed issue around which circulate many myths maintained by the media and unfortunately doctors, even thought this subject area has been widely researched by the science community.

It is a fact that cholesterol is not a poison, but a substance so vital to the body that it manufactures it itself – and much more than we take in through the food we eat.

Cholesterol taken in through your diet has little effect on your blood cholesterol levels. If the body feels the cholesterol levels are low due to restricted dietary intake it will simply start producing cholesterol itself to make up for the deficit.

Cholesterol is necessary for healthy digestion because it is a precursor to bile acids which promotes digestion and absorption of dietary fat. Further cholesterol is also a precursor to all steroid hormones, including glucocorticoids (blood sugar regulation), mineral-corticoids (mineral balance and blood pressure regulation) and sex hormones (many functions including libido, muscle mass). Having too little cholesterol is actually a risk to your health and may impact your brain health, hormone levels, heart disease risk and more.

So far you’ve probably believed that anything that raises LDL cholesterol (so-called “bad” cholesterol) should be avoided at any cost. But recent research suggests that not the amount of cholesterol inside a single LDL particle contributes to the heart disease risk, but instead the number of total LDL particles in the bloodstream. Egg consumption is likely to protect against heart disease because it increases the size of LDL particles. If larger LDL particles can carry more cholesterol fewer particles are needed overall. By that egg consumption may decrease LDL particle concentration, which at this point has been found to be the most significant risk factor for heart disease.

Chris Marsterjohn says ”In fact, while LDL, a major carrier of cholesterol in the blood, does have a role in heart disease; it is when poor metabolism, deficient diets, and toxins destroy the LDL particle that heart disease develops.

And, in fact, the University of Connecticut has extensively studied the effects of eggs on cholesterol levels. These high-quality controlled studies have shown that when people consume three to four eggs per day, with the yolk, virtually everyone experiences either no change or beneficial changes in their cholesterol levels.”

What is really dangerous in relation to cholesterol is only the myth that it is dangerous; and the accompanying mania to lower the blood values with any means be it to prescribe Statins or restrict the ingestion of nutrient rich foods such as eggs.

 

Cholesterol and Statins

If you take statins or know someone who does, watch this trailer of the film Statin Nation and expand your horizon, knowledge is power.
This is the first 13 minutes of the documentary film STATIN NATION: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up. The full 63min film is available here.

 

 

If you want to do some further reading on cholesterol, click here.

 

What about the saturated fat?

The fact that saturated fat is unhealthy, is now sufficiently refuted.

Saturated fat is not unhealthy per se, rather it is an efficient source of energy for humans with excellent protection against oxidation and therefore preferable to the polyunsaturated fats. We have looked at the pros of eating fat in this recent post.

 

 

What’s with the arachidonic acid?

Arachidonic acid is considered to be pro-inflammatory and by that could be a cause for heart disease.

Eggs, meat and human breast milk all contain arachidonic acid. If it was a harmful substance wouldn’t evolution have eliminated this substance in breast milk? If it is in various foods we eat it is highly unlikely that it is a health hazard.

It is more probable that arachidonic acid is an important substance for humans.

Even inflammatory responses are vital in moderation as it helps the body to deal with wounds or injuries. Really as with everything it comes back to moderation or balance.

With respect to arachidonic acid, it is definitely about the context.

It turns out that with a balanced fatty acid ratio in the body arachidonic acid poses practically no problem. A balanced fatty acid ratio includes the consumption of sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and possible less omega -6 fatty acids to achieve a ratio of 2:1 or 1:1.

According to some studies amounts of 1500mg arachidonic acid per day are unproblematic – amounts beyond that have not yet been investigated.

For comparison : 100g beef contain about 70mg arachidonic acid, pasture raised products such as meat , eggs and milk generally contain less arachidonic acid than the products of factory farmed animals.

You need arachidonic acids (AA) for healthy skin, hair, libido, reproduction, growth and response to injury. If all of these things do not matter to you feel free to avoid eating foods that provide AA.

 

 

Easter-treat-for-grownups

My conclusion: eggs are healthy because they are nutritious and contain many of the vital nutrients that our body needs. Only few other foods provide such a high nutrient density so I say there is no definitive reason to limit your egg consumption to 3-4 per week as per the current nutritional guidelines.

In the light of how many essential nutrients eggs contain, it would probably make sense to have 2-3 a day. Eggs should be considered a superfood, will definitely work better to protect your health than an artificial multivitamin supplement would.

We have learned that the health concerns in relation to egg consumption are flawed when you inspect the scientific research closer.

Anyone afraid of heart disease would be much better off reducing excess body fat, adding more daily movement and a generally eating a healthy diet free from sugar, cereals and vegetable oils than to avoid eating eggs.

I hope you feel more at ease eating your eggs which ever way you like them, steamed (instead of boiling for easy peeling), fried, poached, pickled, scrambled or in cakes.

Hard eggs make a great travel food so you won’t get stuck having to eat fast food because you are starving.

How are you having your eggs this Easter?

 

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