The belief that eggs, as well as saturated fats, contribute to heart disease is actually a fallacy. While they contain cholesterol, eggs are not exactly a health hazard. Your body requires cholesterol for many of your body functions, including your neurological function, memory formation, and cell membrane production.
A study published in the International Journal of Cardiology also shows that daily consumption of eggs does not contribute to unhealthy levels of cholesterol or adversely affect your endothelial function.
Instead of eliminating eggs from your diet, you only need to watch what type of eggs you consume. Dr. Joseph Mercola strongly recommends eating free-range eggs and not the ones obtained from commercially farmed hens.
The Definition of “Free-Range”: Why is it the Healthier Option?
Dr. Mercola explains, “True free-range eggs are from hens that roam freely outdoors on a pasture where they can forage for their natural diet, which includes seeds, green plants, insects, and worms.”
Although the commercial egg industry may call its products “free-range,” there is an enormous difference between their birds’ foraging conditions and real free-range chickens.
Commercially farmed birds are often raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where they are only let outside into a barren lot for a few minutes and are provided a diet rich in corn, soy, cottonseed meals, and synthetic additives.
Aside from their living conditions, how do free-range eggs differ from their commercially-farmed counterparts? In 2007, Mother Earth News performed an egg testing project that showed the variations between them. They found that these differences were strongly influenced by the diet of the hens laying the eggs.
In comparison to commercially-farmed eggs, it was found that free-range eggs contained:
- One-third less cholesterol
- One-fourth less saturated fat
- Two-thirds more vitamin A
- Two times more omega-3 fats
- Three times more vitamin E
- Seven times more beta-carotene
The Best Sources of High-Quality Free-Range Eggs
Dr. Mercola says that the best source of free-range eggs is a local farmer that allows his livestock to forage freely. For individuals residing in urban areas, a local health food store is a good option.
You should also check out your local farmers’ market. This way, you can meet face to face with the farmers who produce what you eat. If there is a chance for you to visit their farms, ask for a tour. Have them show you their operations. It is crucial for the farmer to pay attention to proper nutrition, clean water, adequate housing space, and good ventilation for his hens.
If you need help, you may refer to Cornucopia.org’s organic egg scorecard (link) that rates egg manufacturers based on 22 criteria that are essential for consumers.
Besides these, Dr. Mercola explains that you can check yourself to see if the eggs are free-range ones by looking at the color of the egg yolk. Free-range hens produce eggs that possess bright orange yolks, whereas caged hens lay eggs with pale yellow yolks.
How You Cook Eggs Can Affect the Benefits You Reap from Them
You may have heard the warning of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations about how to cook eggs. The recommendation is to thoroughly cook the egg for you to avoid contracting salmonella. However, according to Dr. Mercola, eating eggs raw is the best way to go.
The risk of salmonella only comes from eggs that come from unsanitary conditions – mostly from CAFO’s – and rarely from organic farms. In fact, a study by the British government saw that 23 percent of farms that have caged hens had a high rate of salmonella, while organic flocks had just over four percent and 6.5 percent in free-range chickens. Another study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed that about 2.3 million out of 69 billion eggs produced annually in the U.S. are contaminated with salmonella – which is approximately 30,000 eggs. (link)
Aside from salmonella, allergies are also associated with eggs. But Dr. Mercola says that you can only receive allergies from eggs if they are cooked too much, as heating the egg protein alters its chemical shape. The distortion that forms is what causes the allergic reaction. Eating an egg raw will help you avoid allergies and also preserves the many nutrients enclosed in it, such as lutein and zeaxanthin – which help prevent age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Mercola also shares other recommendations when it comes to eating eggs:
- The texture of the egg white is usually an issue among people, so instead of consuming the egg white, discard it and leave the egg yolk.You may also blend the entire egg into a shake or smoothie.Dr. Mercola shares that he consumes only the yolk and removes the white part because it contains too much protein.
- Do not consume the egg whites without the egg yolk. Egg whites contain avidin, which binds to biotin. When you cook the egg white, the avidin is no longer an issue. If you consume the both yolk and white, there is no danger of having too much avidin because the yolk supplies enough biotin.
- Pregnant women are special cases because they are prone to biotin deficiency, and consuming whole raw eggs may make this worse.Dr. Mercola says that pregnant women have two options:
- Have your biotin levels tested by urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-HIA). 3-HIA increases as a result of the reduced activity of methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase, a biotin-dependent enzyme.
- When you find that you are deficient, you may take a biotin supplement or consume only the yolk raw, with the white cooked.
- If you don’t want to eat a raw egg, your next best choice is soft-boiled.
- Eating your eggs scrambled is one of the worst ways to consume them. When eggs are scrambled, the cholesterol inside the yolk becomes oxidized. People who have high cholesterol levels should avoid eating their eggs scrambled.
For more information on eggs and chickens, read this article by Dr. Mercola.
Tags: cafo, cholesterol and eggs, confined animal feeding operation, Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Mercola, free range eggs, how to eat eggs, joe mercola, joseph mercola, Mercola, organic eggs, saturated fat