Eggs - Friend or Foe?
I love eggs and eat them daily, but they have had some bad press over the years, so not surprisingly this has resulted in confusion, with many people unsure whether eggs should be included in what is considered to be a healthy diet. Below I’ve covered some of the more common questions that keep arising, hope it’s useful….
Health Benefits – Recent studies highlight eggs as having ‘an exceptional nutritional profile’. They are a fantastic source of low-cost, high quality protein, which is essential for our body's for growth and maintenance. They also a good source of vitamins D and K, as well as the B vitamins, including biotin, thiamine, and B12. In addition, eggs are a good source of betaine; which promotes heart health, and choline; which supports healthy brain function. Some eggs contain omega-3 fatty acids; this is dependent upon what the chickens diet (see below).
Cholesterol – In the 1980/90’s we were told that egg consumption directly impacted our cholesterol levels, so we should limit them. However, a statistical analysis of 224 dietary studies carried out over the last 25 years reports that dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels and instead of contributing to heart disease, eggs actually lower the risk. They add that its high levels of saturated fat in the diet that influence blood cholesterol, so it’s this rather than dietary cholesterol we should be limiting.
Nutrient Value – This is determined by the health of the chicken that laid it, so it follows that the nutrient value of an egg from a chicken kept on a battery farm, fed on a processed grain diet is not going to be anywhere near as good as one from a free range chicken, fed an omega 3-rich organic diet. Therefore, always choose free-range, organic eggs, as these chickens should be free of antibiotics (given to prevent infection), free of pesticides (which the chickens ingest and store as pesticide-laden fat in the yolk of the egg) and their diets should be organically grown. Some free-range, organic chickens are fed linseed or special DHA enriched meal, which increases the omega-3 content of their eggs.
How many is too many? - There isn’t actually a set upper limit, but studies indicate it should be around 7-14 eggs per week.
Constipation - Eggs do not cause constipation, this is a myth, so if this is a problem you should look at your overall food intake. A diet high in fat and protein, and low in fibre and fluids can severely affect the frequency of bowel movements so always be sure to include plenty of fibre (fruits and vegetables) in your diet and keep well hydrated with water.
Storing & Eating - Eggs should be refrigerated, where they can last for up to 1 month. Hard-boiling and poaching is the healthiest way of preparing them, as it limits production of AGES; an unhealthy substance produced when cooking at higher temperatures.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods (Murray & Pizzorno, 2013).