When it comes to the heart and nutrition, I get a lot of questions from my clients about eggs.
- Are eggs really good for you?
- Will eggs increase my cholesterol?
- How many eggs can I eat in a week?
There are lots of myths out there about eggs. Eggs have been long vilified by scientists for their “high cholesterol content”. Well, I’m happy to tell you that eggs are making a comeback!
While it is true that eggs contain cholesterol, eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease such as protein, Vitamin D and some of the great B-Vitamins including B12, riboflavin (B2) and folate (B9). It’s the yolks that contain the cholesterol, which may weakly affect your blood cholesterol levels.
The Harvard School of Public Health’s website states:
A solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet. Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption – upto one a day – does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet.
Dr. Mercola’s website says:
While it’s true that fats from animal sources contain cholesterol, this is not necessarily something that will cause harm. Cholesterol is in every cell in your body, it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, Vitamin D and bile acids that help you to digest fat. Cholesterol also helps in the formation of memories and is vital for your neurological function.
As Ron Rosedale MD, who is widely considered to be the leading anti-aging doctor in the United States, says: “First and foremost cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane on Earth. In other words, there is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol. That will automatically tell you that, in of itself, it cannot be evil. In fact it is one of our best friends. We would not be here without it. No wonder lowering cholesterol too much increases one’s risk of dying. Cholesterol also is a precursor to all of the steroid hormones. You cannot make estrogen, testosterone, cortisone, and a host of other vital hormones without cholesterol.”
Let’s face it, is just a smart thing to be concerned about your cholesterol levels. Western Medicine knows that we can reduce our blood cholesterol levels through diet by 20%, well 20% at best. Cholesterol is actually one of our body’s natural stress responses. So if you are truly worried about your cholesterol, start by managing your stress.
I believe that avoiding foods like eggs and saturated fat to protect the heart is a major misconception. My hubby & I enjoy eggs on a regular basis, there are so many yummy recipes for eggs and are one of our favorite choices for breakfasts. Check out my Breakfast Egg Muffins recipe!
Not All Eggs Are Created Equal
The quality of the egg really and truly comes down to the treatment or conditions that the hens were exposed to. If you buy your eggs at the supermarket, do your due diligence and read the labels on the carton. Here are what a few of the common labels mean:
Free-Run / Free-Range
They are not the same. Free-range eggs are those from hens who have access to nesting boxes, open floor space, perches and outdoor runs. Free-run eggs are from hens allowed to roam freely in an enclosed facility though have no access to the outdoors. My favorite choice is free-range.
Eggs that have been ‘enriched’ with omega-3 fatty acids or other nutrients/vitamins come from birds that have been given feed containing components. In the case of omega-3’s, the chicken’s food is commonly laced with flax, algae or a fish oil. The extra omegas that these eggs contain is actually insignificant. That said, this can be a better option than some of the the other mass-produced eggs.
There are actually no guidelines or definitions surrounding this term. Basically, the egg came out of a bird. That’s about it.
Then there is always the question of white versus brown eggs. Technically there’s not a lot of difference between white and brown eggshells. The color of the outside of the egg is determined by the breed of chicken that did the laying – brown eggs come from dark colored hens with red earlobes, white eggs from white hens with white earlobes. Brown eggs do tend to cost more to buy, this is because brown hens tend to be larger and need more food.
The Best Choice
I think that the best-tasting and most-nutritious eggs come from happy chickens!
I think the happiest chickens are the ones that get to act like chickens and scratch around all day and eat all the good stuff that is available to them, the fibrous grasses, bugs and other such things. I just don’t think that the mass-produced, factory-farmed eggs come from happy chickens. How could they?
Whenever you can, treat yourself to fresh farm eggs. Check out your local farmer’s market. But always do your homework, make sure that the farm your buying from has good practices in place and cares for their birds.
There you go. Now get crackin’!