I’m on a new kick coming to the defense of foods that have been demonized, but are actually nutrient rock-stars. Last week's post was about potatoes, and now….EGGS!
How in the world did the amazing egg acquire such a rap sheet? Back in the day, when high blood cholesterol was associated with heart disease, foods that were higher in cholesterol were labeled “unhealthy,” and were thought to be the cause of high blood cholesterol. We’ve come a long way since the time of that understanding, and now we know that cholesterol is not the enemy. Research continues to show that the cholesterol we eat has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in our blood. Trans fats and added sugars are the real problem. Furthermore, our bodies actually need and produce cholesterol. Here’s the most interesting part: when we eat more foods that contain cholesterol, our bodies produce less of it. And the opposite holds true: when we eat foods that contain less cholesterol, our bodies produce more—because our bodies have a pre-determined cholesterol set point, largely determined by genetics, followed by exercise and stress factors.
Do you remember that old add campaign called “The Incredible, Edible Egg?” Well, they were right. An egg really is an incredible food, containing almost every essential vitamin and mineral our bodies require, with the yolk containing most of these vitamins and minerals. An egg contains 7 grams of protein, and is full of omega-3 fatty acids. Certain amino acids in eggs also help the body produce growth hormones and regulate blood sugar.
Except for a very small percentage of the population who have very rare conditions, eating eggs everyday is not associated with heart disease. There’s more: in controlled research trials, people who ate up to 3 eggs per day, while also on a weight loss diet, lost weight, decreased inflammation, and either maintained or improved blood cholesterol levels! Egg yolks also contain 3 key nutrients which are responsible for brain and heart function, and eye health.
And what’s with all the labels/varieties of eggs?? These days, shopping for eggs can be almost overwhelming. Here’s an egg cheat sheet for ya:
Cage-free eggs: eggs from birds not raised in cages; usually in an open barn
Free-range eggs: eggs from birds that have the opportunity to go outdoors and roam
Organic eggs: eggs from birds that are usually cage free, eat organic feed, and don’t receive antibiotics or vaccines
Vegetarian eggs: eggs from birds that are fed only a vegetarian diet, and usually kept in cages indoors
When I can, I get my eggs locally at the farmer’s market, and I talk with the farmer about how the hens are cared for. At the store, I usually opt for organic eggs or free-range eggs.
As with any food, portion sizes matter, method of preparation matters, and quality of the food itself matters. And again, this information is for the general, healthy population, not those with specific health conditions.
For now, heat up a cast iron skillet, put a touch of coconut oil inside, then lightly fry yourself an incredible, edible EGG!
(See my previous blog post, “Breaking Fast” for lots more breakfast ideas….eggs and more!)