Too many healthy foods have had a bad rap in the no-so-distant-past and unfortunately once the mud has been slung, it is very difficult to unsling it. This has certainly been the case with eggs, butter, coconut oil, to name but a few. It is my firm belief that ANY food item that is a pure unadulterated piece, no matter what it is, HAS to be better for you – in moderation – than man-made substitutes. So, always choose butter over margarine or other “spreads”; choose whole milk yoghurt over low or no-fat substitutes. You only have to look at the label to see that they are adding in a whole plethora of chemicals and artificial flavorings and sweeteners in order to try to recreate the flavor of the original. Eat the real thing and your body will thank you for it.
There was a widespread belief that eggs were unhealthy because they contain cholesterol and therefore must contribute to heart disease (since proven false, but cholesterol is a whole other article.)
True, eggs DO contain cholesterol – a large egg can contain about 212 mg, which is a lot compared to other foods, BUT eating cholesterol DOES NOT adversely affect cholesterol levels in the blood. This has been proven time and time again. Eggs do, in fact, RAISE the “good” cholesterol (HDL) AND they also change LDL -the “bad” cholesterol- from small, dense LDL to large LDL, which changes it from being BAD for you to being BENIGN.
So, if we can get to what the amazing benefits of eating eggs are:
- Eggs are particularly rich in the two antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Both HUGE in the business of protecting against the eye diseases macular degeneration and cataracts. In one study, supplementing with an average of 1.3 egg yolks per day for 4.5 weeks increased blood levels of lutein by 28-50% and zeaxanthin by 114-142%.
- Eggs are loaded with high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals, good fats and various trace nutrients. One large egg has only 77 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein with all 9 essential amino acids. They are rich in iron, phosphorous, selenium, vitamins A, B12, B2 and B5 and Choline (important for the brain). They also include small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral required by the human body… including calcium, potassium, zinc, manganese, Vitamin E, Folate and many more. An all-round superfood!
- Eggs can help you lose weight! Eggs score high on a scale called the satiety index, which means that eggs are particularly capable of making you feel full and eat fewer overall calories. They also only contain trace amounts of carbohydrates, which means that they will not raise blood glucose levels. Numerous studies have shown that eating eggs, instead of carbs, for breakfast can result in:
- 61% greater reduction in BMI.
- 65% more weight loss.
- 34% greater reduction in waist circumference.
- 16% greater reduction in body fat.
Of course, as with all foods, eating organic is always the best option as they are much more nutritious than battery hen eggs (regular supermarket eggs), however if you don’t have access to local farm eggs or have your own hen, then buy omega-3 enriched or pastured (free range if possible, failing that “cage-free”).
If you have never tried a free range egg than I encourage you to do it at least once, just to see and taste the difference. Free range eggs are heavy, have a nice strong shell (won’t crack at the slightest tap) and the yolks are large and a vibrant yellowy orange color.
Beside the fact that hens kept in cages where they can barely move is incredibly cruel, the eggs that they produce are bound to be inferior in quality to those hens that are allowed space to roam and forage. Just like you, a varied diet means a healthier hen. Hens fed on corn by products every day produce a particular kind of egg (pale watery yellow yolks, lacking in nutritional value).
- Twice as much omega-3 fatty acids.
- Three times more vitamin E.
- Seven times more pro-vitamin A beta-carotene.
- A quarter less saturated fat.
- A third less cholesterol.
Other tests have demonstrated that pastured eggs have up to six times more essential vitamin D than regular supermarket eggs. They have also been shown to have significantly more B vitamins than a factory egg.
One last point to make is that (and here I apologise to all you egg-white omelette eaters out there) you MUST eat the WHOLE egg in order to get all the benefits. The egg white just contains protein, ALL the other vitamins and minerals and found in the yolk! And let’s face it, it’s the yolk that tastes so yummy – and it’s in the yolk that you can see and taste the difference between caged and free range hens.