Here’s what you need to know: eggs are good for you and it is a fallacy that their dietary cholesterol content somehow contributes to high LDL blood cholesterol levels. These are unrelated factors regardless of what conventional dietary guidelines will have you believe.
In the “old days” people were always eating raw eggs. See: grandma and her quirkiness. See the expression: “you don’t need to tell me how to suck eggs” etc. But since the advent of factory farming and industrial, sadistic production of chicken and eggs, it became common for raw eggs to be contaminated with salmonella and worse. So it has become a preventative practice to cook eggs because heat kills salmonella.
My rule is that if you are buying the kind of eggs that need to be cooked so that they don’t make you sick, you should just avoid them in the first place. Because what else is lurking in that sickening, industrial egg? What was the chicken eating? What were the conditions? What kind of drugs and hormones was that chicken on so that it could survive being cramped in a battery cage, pecked nearly to death and surrounded by feces? Don’t just cook those eggs, throw them out to the raccoons. Stop creating a demand for eggs that can hit store shelves for under $3. Seriously, people.
WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR IN AN EGG
You want eggs that come from a small farm where the chickens actually go outside and get sunshine on their backs. This natural form of Vitamin D is essential for synthesizing all the other vitamins and nutrients that will make your egg nutritious rather than a waste of your time, or worse, inflammatory.
Another reason you want chickens that go outside is because you want them to peck grass and forage for bugs, especially the kind of bugs that hatch out of fresh cow patties etc. Sounds gross, but this is the circle of life and you need to get on it. Eating grass means high carotein content; eating bugs means high DHA content.
FREE RANGE FOOLERY
At the store you will see plenty of labels on eggs stating they are “free-range”. Well all this means from a regulatory point of view is that the chickens have ACCESS to a tiny door which leads to some form of outside pen. This does not mean that the chickens use the access door, nor does it mean that the outside pen has any grass or bugs in it whatsoever. Furthermore, the chickens used in large-scale egg operations are weak, inferior animals (suitable only for laying eggs, really) who are too timid and ill-equipped to go outside, so they generally do not choose to venture out the terrifying access door. What I am saying is that you cannot win with a large-scale operation.
So you are going to have to find eggs from a small-scale operation. My rule of thumb is less than 500 chickens. That way a human farmer can actually keep track of the chickens and their various issues, and can remove sick chickens from the flock and also just act like farmers instead of factory foremen. You can get these kinds of eggs directly from farmers, farmers’ markets, CSA clubs and also in Ontario from the “Small Flock” egg co-op, which is a co-op of farmers who keep less than 500 chickens per farm but sell under one label. And of course you can also just keep your own chickens if you want to be hard core.
FEEDING FLAX TO CHICKENS
You see the “Omega-3” label on eggs as well, and this just means that the farmer (or factory foreman) feeds a high ratio of flaxseeds to the chickens. Chickens are pretty efficient at metabolizing flaxseeds and producing eggs higher in Omega-3 fatty acids as a result – so this is a valid claim.
However factory eggs also happen to contain 19 times more pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids than pastured eggs, so you can see why it is essential to add some Omega-3 back into them so that they are not a total junk food. Adding in some Omega-3 will reduce the inflammatory effect of all that Omega-6 – but in the end it will not make very much Omega-3 available to you. Tricky, huh?
What you should know is that chickens who eat grass and forage for bugs produce eggs that are just as high, if not higher, in Omega-3 fatty acids – yet they have 19 times less inflammatory Omega-6 issues to mitigate.
So when you see the “Omega-3” label on eggs, what that says is that these are industrial, factory chickens that have been slightly ameliorated with a health claim for more Omega-3s. It’s kind of like adding Omega-3s to a candy bar – at the end of the day, it’s still a candy bar and the inflammatory properties of the candy bar just can’t be magically canceled out by the additions of some Omega-3s. So let’s call these eggs “industrial plus”, but let’s not confuse them with the eggs from small-scale pastured chickens.
More than half of the protein in an egg is in the white, but most of the nutrients and all of the fat are in the yolk. Misguided conventional nutritional advice favors protein and fears fat, which is why freaky conflations like egg-white omelettes exist. I’m sorry for you if you ever had to eat one of those.
I don’t think you should throw any part of an egg away; I think you should eat the whole egg. But if you were going to favor any part of the egg, favor the yolk.
A big, natural yolk should be bright orange and contain at least 5g of fat, nearly 3g of protein – and no meaningful carbohydrates. The yolk contains 13 essential nutrients including 10% of your Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin D , 5% of your B6, B12 and Vitamin A – all in a super bioavailable package. It is also a source of lutein – for your eyes, and biotin (Vitamin B7) – for glossy hair and dewy skin. However it should be noted that raw egg whites contain anti-nutrients which bind with biotin, among other things, which both make it unavailable and can lead to a biotin-defficiency.
The white of an egg contains nearly 4g of protein – so nominally more than the yolk. The reason everyone has this idea that the whites are soooo much higher in protein is because it is a lean protein, which excites a lot of people who hate fat. There is neither fat nor meaningful carbohydrates in an egg white. So it can totally be used as a pure protein supplement if you are somehow lacking protein – like if you are a vegetarian who eats eggs. But if you are looking for protein, why don’t you just eat the whole egg and get nearly 7g, plus a bonus of all the healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients in the yolk?
EGG WHITE TRICKINESS
While the protein in egg yolks is readily available in its raw state, egg whites contain trypsin-inhibitors which ironically make it more difficult to digest protein. Easy fix is to cook the egg whites, which mostly disables both the trypsin-inhibitors and the anti-nutrient avindin (which binds with biotin). What I am saying is that there is no benefit to eating raw egg whites. Cook them already.
WHY THE CHOLESTEROL CONFUSION?
First: When you cook an egg yolk right through, the cholesterol becomes oxidized. When you eat that oxidized cholesterol, it causes inflammation in the body. The body reacts to this inflammation by producing protective cholesterol, including LDL cholesterol. Ergot it has been broadly interpreted that eating eggs raises blood cholesterol serum. A more accurate interpretation is that eating hard-cooked egg yolks can cause inflammation which leads to elevations in LDL cholesterol.
Second: Eating factory eggs, which are freakily high in inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids, causes inflammation in the body which makes the body react by producing protective cholesterol including LDL.
It is very, very easy to fix both these issues. Just use small-farm biodynamic eggs and eat your yolks raw or soft-cooked. End of discussion.
HOW TO WIN AT EGGS
Egg whites are better for you cooked. Egg yolks are better for you raw. So either add raw yolks to your smoothie, or else soft-poach eggs or serve them sunny side up or over-easy. It’s really not that complicated.
My daughter doesn’t like eggs, so I secretly put a raw egg yolk in her breakfast shake some mornings. Recipe = 1 raw egg yolk, 1 cup raw organic milk, 1/2 TBS organic raw cacao, 1/2 TBS coconut oil, 1/4 tsp raw honey from our own bees, 3 drops stevia, vanilla, cinnamon. She falls for it every time.
Review study shows eggs do not contribute to heart disease risk, in fact offer beneficial effects
Three Eggs A Day Keeps the Doctor Away
The Cruelest of All Factory Farm Products
An article from Salon about the social costs of purchasing factory farmed eggs, meat and dairy, which accounts for 80% of antibiotic use in America.