Are Eggs Healthy?
An Egg a Day
Eggs are healthy because they contain good fats, proteins, phospholipids, choline, and everything else needed to form a baby chick -- with the caveat mentioned below in the counter argument.
Food is supposed to rebuild our bodies and hence would be ideal if they contain the building blocks for our cells. Our cell membranes are composed primarily of omega-3 fats, phospholipids, cholesterol, and protein. And one egg has all that.
Eggs also contain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, that helps protect the eye against age-related macular degeneration.
Eggs are a good protein source and provide beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
It is fine for healthy adults to eat one egg a day (including the yolk). Many experts says the same things (and some say you can even have more). Dr. Mark Hyman says in his book The UltraMind Solution, that you can have up to 8 eggs a week [page 300].
Dr. Bernstein in his book Diabetes Solutions says he eats two eggs a day. Although one should not over-do eating eggs. Because the egg yolk does contains some arachidonic acid which is a type of fat that is inflammatory. [page 272 UltraPrevention]
Do Not Skip the Egg Yolk
Nevertheless, don't skip the egg yolk and just eat the egg white. A good portion of the healthful properties are in the yolk. If you skip the yolk, you are skipping on all the good nutrients of the egg. If you don't have a cholesterol problem, then having the egg yolk should be fine.
Eggs are listed in the book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth which the author says ...
"Do me a favor. Stop with the egg whites already. If I see one more healthy, robust, well-muscled, athletic young person ordering an egg-white omelet for breakfast, I'll scream. Listen carefully: the egg yolk is good for you! It's part of the package." [page 193]
Egg yolks also have some vitamin K2 that plays a role in preventing the hardening of arteries by moving calcium from the arteries to the bones. Although its K2 amounts are not as high as some fermented foods such as natto.
The yolk contains a lot of B vitamins in order to support life. Best to get eggs from free-range chickens. The chickens from commercial egg farms are highly stressed and uses up all their B vitamins and there is less B vitamins in the eggs.
Chris Masterjohn's article The Increditble Edible Egg Yolk has table showing that the egg yolk is much superior in nutritional value than the egg white. He says there is not much evidence that raw yolk is better than cooked yolk. There is also little evidence that raw yolks are dangerous. However, the egg whites should always be cooked because it contains inhibitor of the digestive enzyme trypsin. And the white contains an anti-nutrient avidin that binds and prevents the absorption of vitamin biotin.
You May Be Surprised by what you learn in this video
The YouTube video on the right shows a conversation between Dr. Stephanie Seneff and Dr. Mercola. They both agree that eggs are healthy and cholesterol in eggs are not a problem.
Dr. Stephanie Seneff says ...
"Eggs are a marvelous food, egg yolk in particular. It’s a crime when people throw away the yolk and make egg white omelets."
She also says ...
"Heart disease I think is a cholesterol deficiency problem and in particular a cholesterol sulfate deficiency problem."
Wow. She says heart disease is caused by too little cholesterol, not too much. Before you dismiss this forthright, watch the whole video for the full explanation. After watching, the explanation is very compelling.
Cholesterol is so essential, that most cells in the body is capable of making its own cholesterol. Eighty percent of the body's cholesterol is manufactured in the body. But it is a lot of work, involving a 25 to 30 step process. By consuming cholesterol, you unload some of the burden of the liver from needing to manufacture so much cholesterol.
Dr. Mercola says that ...
"For my breakfast everyday I throw away the white and have four egg yolks."
Eggs and Cholesterol
Eggs have gotten a bad reputation in the past due to its high cholesterol. There is around 200 mg of cholesterol in one egg -- depending on the type and size of the egg.
Some people are afraid of the egg yolk because it is high in cholesterol. It is true that egg yolk have cholesterol and that consumption of dietary cholesterol may raises the LDL bad cholesterol.
However, the amount that it raises depend on the individual. Some studies find that only 30 to 40 percent of people experience a spike in blood cholesterol due to dietary cholesterol.
Where there are studies that didn't find any relation between egg consumption and disease, there are other studies that do suggest that for diabetic men and diabetic women, there is an association with increased heart disease with higher egg consumption at the amount of one or more eggs per day. [reference]
Dr. Uffe Ravnskov did an informal experiment on himself where he ate eight eggs a day for a few days and found that his cholesterol did not go up. [reference from his book Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You page 45]
Outside of an experiement, eight eggs a day is over-doing it. Eight eggs a week may be more appropriate.
Dr. Mark Hyman says it is okay to eat up to 8 eggs a week including the yolk. Writing in The Blood Sugar Solution, he says eggs ...
"contain lots of DHA and they don't raise cholesterol; just the opposite. ... Yolks contain important vitamins and fats needed for brain and mood function." [page 204]
Your brain needs cholesterol to function. In fact the brain is the most cholesterol-rich organ in the body, containing 25% of all the cholesterol in the body.
The book The Heart Revolution writes ...
"... the less cholesterol we eat in the diet, the more cholesterol is made in the body. Therefore, if you restrict the amount of cholesterol you eat, your body will simply produce more." [page 19]
Dr. Mercola on Cholesterol and Eggs
The blood cholesterol is affected by many other factors such as consumption of sugar and lack of exercise. And it can not be completely blamed on consumption of dietary cholesterol.
In fact, 75% of the cholesterol in your blood is produced your your liver. And that is influenced in part by the insulin level caused by sugar consumption as mentioned in the video by Dr. Mercola on the right. For lowering cholesterol, Dr. Mercola suggests exercise and decrease consumption of sugar and carbohydrates that turns into sugar (such as bread, pasta, etc).
Dr. Mercola says "eggs are a phenomenal food" and that he ...
"have a minimum of two eggs a day more typically four or sometimes as much as eight eggs a day. The key to consuming them is I have them raw and uncooked which I think is a really guiding principle in eating" (reference)
Radhia Gleis Explains Why Eggs are Not Bad
Certified Clinical Nutritionist Radhia Gleis believes egg consumption does not correlated to increase cardiovascular disease. She explains why eggs are not bad for you in the video on the right. And she suggest that one way to look at it is that you can consume as much eggs per day as the number of bowel movements you have per day. That means that if you have one bowel movement per day (as most healthy people do), then one egg per day is fine.
In any case, all the beneficial nutrients in eggs probably offset any extra dietary cholesterol that comes from the egg.
Article on whfoods.com reports of a study that found ...
"participants' blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were not affected by eating an egg a day."
The book Ultraprevention says ...
"...eggs are very low in saturated fat, and do not increase your cholesterol. Organic omega-3 eggs are particularly high in healthful fats, and are an excellent source of protein and folic acid." [page 16]
The book, The Happiness Diet, writes ...
"It's true that cholesterol tests that your doctor runs are predictors of heart disease, but what's wrong is the explanation of how diet causes your cholesterol to become out of whack. ... An egg ... that's less than 1 percent of the amount of cholesterol already being pumped around your body. For the majority of Americans, eating foods high in cholesterol doesn't raise blood cholesterol substantially. ... It is impossible to eat enough cholesterol to supply your body's needs -- that's why it's manufactured by the liver." [page 34]
Choline in Eggs
Since eggs are cells, eggs have all the ingredients to keep cell membranes healthy. The have omega-3 fatty acids, phospholipids, cholesterol, and protein.
Eggs is a good source of choline that is the precursor to phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine along with phosphatidylserine are among the elements that make up the phospholipids of cell membranes.
Choline (along with B vitamins) plays a role in making the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays a major role in memory, motor functions, and other autonomic activities of the nervous system.
Dr. Daniel Amen writes in his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Body that a deficiency in acetylcholine may lead to Alzheimer's disease and dementia. [page 326 of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body]
Choline in conjunction with betaine reduces inflammation and decreases homocysteine. A study found that people whose diet are high in choline and betaine have lower inflammation markers such as lower C-reactive protein and lower tumor necrosis factor alpha.
Chronic inflammation have been link to chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis.
Choline is necessary for pregnant women for brain and memory development of the fetus.
With choline being such an important nutrient, it is surprising that some cite that 90% of Americans may be deficient in choline. Chris Masterjohn believes that choline deficiency is ultimately responsible for fatty liver disease of which 100 million Americans have some degree of fatty liver disease.
How to Have Your Eggs
It is best to eat eggs from pastured chickens that roam freely about. They are known as free-range or cage free chickens. The diets of these chicken most closestly resemble their diet in wild of plants, grubs, worms, and insects. Their eggs will have higher amounts of omega-3 fats.
The book Nourishing Traditions writes that ...
"Eggs from pasture-fed chickens ... constitute the most complete, nutritious and economical form of animal protein available..." [page 32]
Omega-3 enriched eggs are good to get as well. There are now eggs labeled as omega-3 eggs. No, they do not inject the eggs with omega-3. These eggs are produced by feeding the chickens food source of omega-3.
Here is what the book UltraPrevention has to say about omega-3 eggs. ..
"Organic omega-3 eggs are particularly high in healthful fats, and are an excellent source of protein and folic acid." [page 16]
Then there are eggs from vegetarian chickens. These chickens probably do not see the sun or the outdoors, otherwise they would consume at least some worms and insects. Best to get free-range eggs.
When cooking, it is best to minimize the exposure of the eggs yolk to oxygen so that less of the cholesterol gets oxidized. So poaching or boiling with soft yolk is good. Frying over-easy is okay too. And at least, it is better than scrambled eggs. But having scrambled eggs is still better than not having eggs at all.
When frying, do not use olive oil. The heat needed to fry eggs will damage the olive oil. And definitely do not use vegetable oil. Instead, use coconut oil which is more heat resistant. Coconut oil is among the best cooking oil to use.
In the book Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser, it writes ...
"One egg provides thirteen essential nutrients, all in the yolk" [page 74]
Besides that, eggs has good source of B vitamins, choline, vitamin E. And if it is from pasture-raised chickens, it would contains vitamin D as well.
What about the Egg White
Some regards the yolk as more important than the egg white. While the yolk can be eaten semi-raw, the white should be well cooked before consuming.
There are some pros and cons about the egg white.
Although uncooked egg whites contain the albumin protein with a very high protein efficiency ratio. When cooked, this efficiency ratio drops by 20 to 30 percent, which is still quite good. This is extremely high quality protein. The single most abundant protein in our serum blood volume is albumin. [reference: page 90-91 of Forever Young]
However, ThePaleoMom.com explains that egg white contain lysozyme which can pass through the gut wall with protease inhibitors and other proteins that may be piggybacking on that lysozyme. These foreign proteins that hitch a ride through the gut barrier may contribute to a molecular mimicry autoimmune response in people with autoimmune conditions. And it may also be why approximately 2 to 3% of the population is allergic to eggs.
Hence she advises against consuming eggs for people with autoimmune conditions.
Counter Argument: Allergic to Eggs
Eggs are healthy provided that you do not have a food allergy or sensitivity to eggs. Some people and children have a food sensitivity to eggs in which they notice symptoms shortly after eating eggs. Others may have sensitivity to eggs even without any symptoms. For some gluten sensitive individuals, eggs can be a cross-reactive food that simulates the immune system similar to what gluten does.
That is why some food packaging indicates whether they contain egg products. If you are allergic to eggs, then do not eat eggs or egg products. Some people can outgrow this food allergy, but others have it for life.
It is possible that the allergenic properties of eggs are due to the soy and grains that the chickens were fed which eventually ended up in the eggs. That is why some people can not tolerate commercial eggs, but can do fine with pastured raised eggs (which means that chickens are raised in a pasture where they eat bugs and their natural diet).
Even if you do not have an allergy to eggs, there should be a limit of the number of eggs you eat per day. More is not necessarily better. The reason is that one medium-size egg contains 500 mg of omega-6 and only 32 mg of omega-3 [reference], which is not a favorable ratio if you are trying to reduce the inflammatory omega-6 intake.
Counter Argument: Depends on how you cook your eggs
Steven Fowkes in this video says that he doesn't eat hard boiled eggs, only soft boiled. Because the heat of cooking can denature the proteins and cause the fats in the eggs to go rancid. And because of this over-cooking, eggs can be an inflammatory food.