Eggs – From Super Bad to Super Food! By Joel Le Blanc
If you have ever felt pangs of guilt, desire and confusion over your plate of eggs benedict, then you are not alone. Many generations of people have had approached eggs with trepidation and fear. But why? In a word — cholesterol. Egg yolks are packed full of it, and as consumers have become more conscious about cardiovascular health and dietary habits, they have shied away from golden, delicious eggs. And it’s a shame — because they are totally wrong. There is nothing wrong with eating eggs. Nothing at all. In fact, you are more likely to do your cardiovascular health a disservice by refraining from eating eggs.
Eggs are packed full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids. While the egg whites do have some protein, it is within the creamy yolk where the real nutrition lies. Egg yolk contains the majority of the protein (between 6g and 15g per egg), as well as most of the vitamin B-12, thiamin, biotin, selenium, vitamin D, sulfur, phosphorous, iron, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids (mostly alpha-lipoic acid and DHA).
For many vegetarians, this makes eggs a huge dietary source of many vital nutrients. Not only do they provide much-needed vitamin B-12, protein and iron, but also DHA — an omega-3 oil usually only found in fish. DHA is present in the human brain and in the myelin sheath around nerves in large quantities, and studies show supplementation with DHA improves cognitive development, memory, learning, mood and nerve function. How much DHA is in a single egg depends almost entirely on what sort of nutrition is given to the chickens that produce the eggs — but in general, a free range chicken that consumes leafy greens, bugs and seeds will have much more omega-3 and DHA in its eggs than a barn or battery hen.
For anyone interested in protecting themselves against age-related chronic degenerative illnesses, eggs are a wonderful prophylactic. Betaine is found in high amounts in eggs yolks — a chemical which has shown in research to reduce and treat high homocysteine levels. While homocysteine is a natural byproduct of amino acid metabolism, it is dangerous for homocysteine blood levels to become too high. People with high homocysteine levels are more at risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzeimer’s Disease, neural tube defects, osteoporosis and cancer. Betaine is one of the best treatments for reducing homocysteine levels, and makes for yet another reason why eggs are beneficial for health, longevity and quality of life.
What about the cholesterol content? Yes, admittedly eggs do contain between 200mg to 500mg of cholesterol per egg. It may sound like a startling number, but it doesn’t add up to much. Dietary cholesterol from our food has very, very little effect on blood cholesterol levels in humans. Most of the cholesterol floating around our blood is produced by our body — not absorbed from our food.
In contrast to popular belief, Scientists now believe that eggs may be beneficial for heart health. Omega-3 foods (such as eggs) are known to improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, and protect against cardiovascular diseases. In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers showed that people who ate four eggs per week had lower cholesterol levels than those who ate just one egg per week. This study confirmed the results of over 200 other studies, which all showed that eggs had little to no impact on blood cholesterol. Well, that turns years of egg-bashing right on it’s head!
So, there you have it. Years of confusion and misinformation, it turns out that generations of people around the world abstained from eggs — a healthy source of nutrition — for no apparent reason. I don’t know about you, but I am going to be eating my eggs poached, and guilt-free, from now on.
Joel Le Blanc is a freelance writer, poet and medical herbalist. He has published articles on health, alternative medicine, literature, art and food, and is currently completing a BA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Canterbury. Joel runs a blog for creative people wanting to learn more about natural and alternative medicine at The Wormwood Files.