Cracking the Unhealthy Egg Myth

Posted on March 13th, 2009 by author  |  5 Comments »

How do you like your eggs done? Fried sunny side up or scrambled? Hard boiled, soft boiled or poached? If you love eating eggs but have been limiting your consumption then I’ve got good news for you. You can forget about all your concerns on cholesterol because contrary to popular belief, eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat.

Eggs are probably one of the most demonized foods in the United States, mainly because of the misguided idea implied by the lipid hypothesis that eating egg yolk increases the cholesterol levels in your body.

Because of the unhealthy egg myth, American egg consumption has gone down in the last 40 years. If you still believe this old wives’ tale, you’re missing out on the important health benefits that the egg provides, not to mention, a great breakfast.

Numerous nutritional studies have dispelled the myth that you should avoid eating eggs. A study conducted by the Yale Prevention Research Center showed that egg consumption did not have a negative effect on endothelial function – a measure of cardiac risk – and did not cause a spike on cholesterol levels. The participants of the Yale study ate two eggs per day for a period of six weeks.

A new study from the University of Alberta found that proteins in fried and boiled eggs may actually help decrease blood pressure. The researchers used a model stomach and small intestine to recreate the conditions of acidity, temperature and enzymes found in a human digestive system.

They then sent fried and boiled eggs through the simulation and discovered that the egg proteins can be converted into peptides with a special function known as ACE-inhibiting activity. ACE inhibitors block the conversion of a compound which constricts blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and blood pressure. The fried egg proteins displayed better ACE-inhibition abilities than boiled egg proteins, which could be attributed to the higher cooking temperatures for fried eggs, and the more even distribution of the heat.

Looking beyond the egg-cholesterol controversy and to set the record straight, what are the benefits of eating eggs?

Believe It: Eggs Are Good For You

Why are eggs a healthy food? Here are the benefits of including eggs into your diet:

• One egg contains 6 grams of high quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids

• Eggs are one of the few foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D (24.5 grams).

Eggs are good for your eyes because they contain lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants found in your lens and retina. These two compounds help protect your eyes from damage caused by free radicals and avoid eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.

• Eggs are a good source of choline (one egg contains about 300 micrograms), a member of the vitamin B family essential for the normal function of human cells and helps regulate the nervous and cardiovascular systems. Choline is especially beneficial for pregnant mothers as it is influences normal brain development of the unborn child.

• Eggs may help prevent breast cancer. A study shows that women who ate at least 6 eggs weekly reduced their risk of breast cancer by 44 percent.

• Eggs may help promote healthy hair and nails due to their high sulphur content

• Eggs also contain biotin, calcium, copper, folate, iodine, iron, manganese, magnesium, niacin, potassium, selenium, sodium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, vitamin E and zinc.

Now that you have an idea of the benefits of eating eggs, it’s time to learn …

The Best Way to Consume Eggs

Dr. Mercola recommends separating the egg yolks from the whites, eat the yolk raw and cook the whites. He explains that if you eat the whole egg raw or just raw egg white, you may not get enough biotin (vitamin B7), which is needed to form fatty acids and glucose for the production of energy in your body. Biotin also helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Egg yolks contain biotin but egg whites also contain a protein that blocks the absorption of biotin, so it’s not a good idea to eat the whole egg raw.

Salmonella is not an issue when it comes to eating raw eggs because only one in every 30,000 eggs is contaminated with the bacteria. That’s 0.003 percent of the estimated 69 billion eggs produced annually in the U.S. Eggs infected with salmonella are rare because chickens with infected ovaries tend to stop laying eggs.

If you don’t like eating raw eggs, it’s best to soft boil them instead. Avoid scrambled eggs because scrambling them will oxidize the cholesterol in the egg yolk. Also, egg protein is easily damaged by mixing or blending.

Choose free-range organic eggs. It’s best to directly buy your eggs from a local farmer.

Dr. Mercola also strongly advises you to avoid omega-3 eggs because they are actually less healthy and is not the proper way to optimize your omega-3 levels. The hens are usually fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized. Also, omega-3 eggs are more perishable than non-omega-3 eggs.

You also don’t need to refrigerate your eggs because they tend to lose some of their nutritional value this way.

So, does eating more than one egg a day keep the doctor away? There’s no need to go that far because it’s always best to eat something in moderation, even for health foods.

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Responses to “Cracking the Unhealthy Egg Myth”

  1. alan says on :

    dear Dr. Mercola i really enjoy your articles
    BUT y just see your video about your breakfast and it doesn´t do any sense that you recomend not to eat the raw whites and you are doing so in your breakfast video

    thank you . warm regards.
    Alan

  2. Rich says on :

    Alan,

    I am not sure if you compared the dates on the video and the story. Dr. Mercola recommended eating the full raw egg up until around 2009 (the video I saw is dated 2007). As he is always trying to update his research, he subsequently realized what is documented in this article on the reasons not to consume both at the same time.

    Best Regards,

    Rich

  3. Carmine says on :

    I also follow Dr Mercola and just saw his video. My concern is that in all my research, raw eggs and denatured whey protein (the type he sells) is very sensitive when mixed and should never be mixed with a blender as it destroys the bonded cystine that we need to absorb for glutathione production. Yet he uses a blender ? What gives? He really needs to start purging his old post and be more clear about things. As I said I am an avid follower but lately I’m losing respect for him as his quality standards regarding the info on his site are very poor.

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