Sometimes it can be confusing determining which nutrition experts you can trust. When it comes to eggs, one study finds them good for you, and then next one calls them dangerous. So which ones are right.
Although this back-and-forth, widely-debated topic can be confusing, determining whether an egg will raise your cholesterol or clog your arteries comes down to your lifestyle, health conditions, what you eat daily, and more.
Here’s an example: one large egg contains 212mg of cholesterol, which is a lot compared to most food. This is where the cholesterol misconception comes in, according to Jacob Klessens, RD, LD, CPT, who’s here to talk about the Jacob Klessens, RD, LD, CPT.
Your liver produces cholesterol every day, and the amount of cholesterol produced depends on how much you eat, making dietary sources of cholesterol to have minimal effects on body cholesterol. So, if you get a lot of cholesterol from food, your liver will produce less. If you don’t eat foods with cholesterol, your liver produces more of it. On top of that, studies show that eating dietary cholesterol has no link to heart attacks or strokes.
While too much of one thing can be bad, staying away from eggs completely due to fear of your cholesterol rising, especially when you practice clean eating, will have you missing out on some of the best nutrients on the planet.
Egg Misconceptions (Clearing up Cholesterol Myths)
Klessens explains that the view on eggs has changed many times over the last five or so decades, and it can be somewhat hard to keep up with. “One day you hear that you shouldn’t eat eggs because they are super high in cholesterol, the next, they are perfectly safe to eat,” he says. We’ve all seen the runaround.
Yes, eggs do contain a high amount of cholesterol, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad for you. “Eggs have many health benefits, not to mention they are delicious, so cutting them out completely is unnecessary,” says Klessens.
He explains that “If you are someone who is watching their cholesterol, you will want to limit your cholesterol intake, which can be done through eating fewer eggs or eliminating other animal products that are high in saturated fats.” He recommends incorporating good sources of soluble fiber into your diet as it will help decrease LDL levels, if that is something you are concerned about.
Egg-cellent Health Benefits
From a solid source of protein to vitamin and mineral-packed, eggs should have a seat at the table every day. “Eggs have many health benefits, one of the most known is that they are a great source of protein, containing an average of six grams of protein per egg,” says Klessens.
“Cooked eggs are also one of the most bioavailable protein sources you can consume sitting at 91%, second to whey protein,” he says. This means the body can utilize the protein extremely well – A bonus for those tearing muscle fibers in the gym day in and day out.
Klessens explains eggs also contain a wide variety of vitamins such as B6, B12, and vitamin D, which are important for maintaining a healthy nervous and immune system, producing red blood cells, and supports bone health and muscle growth.
And let’s not forget thyroid-supporting minerals, which are known to boost overall health and energy levels. “Eggs are a great source of selenium, which is important for thyroid support, reproduction, and protecting the body from free radicals,” Klessens says making this protein choice a must for both men and women. And what’s even better is, the same nutritional profile applies to the yellows—aka yolks!
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Yolked
Time to rewire your thinking, Klessens says—egg yolks aren’t the enemy. In fact, there are many health benefits to eating egg yolks. “People often think that the egg white is the only part of the egg that contains protein, however, that is not true,” he says. “Egg yolks actually contain a couple of grams of protein as well, along with healthy unsaturated fats, and vitamins A, D, E, K, and B vitamins,” he explains. All vitamins needed to keep you healthy and strong while providing a tasty breakfast (or dinner) option.
How Many Egg Yolks Should You Eat? According to recent studies, consuming one-to-two whole eggs per day appears to be safe to include in a healthy diet. “This number will vary for everyone depending on their health status and other foods they consume throughout the day, but that is the best answer,” says Klessens. Working with your PCP will best help you understand what’s going on inside your body, how your liver is working, and if eggs should play a role in your diet as a regular guest.
Two Egg Hacks You Need in Your Life (How to tell if an egg has gone bad)
- Crack it and inspect the spread: Klessens recommends cracking the egg open and see if the egg white has a watery appearance. “If it spreads out quickly across the pan, that could indicate the egg is old but doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad.” Says Klessens. Keep in mind, If the egg has any sort of discoloration or sulfur smell to it, that typically means the egg has gone bad. · Perform the Float Test:
- Gently place your egg(s) in a bow of water: If the egg sinks, it’s fresh, if tilts upward or floats, it’s most likely gone bad.
Eggs Purchasing Tips:
- Egg color is determined by the birds’ genetics, not one color is better than another.
- Always buy organic eggs. (If you can). If you don’t have a farm close by, ask your local grocery store clerk if they can provide more information on the eggs you wish to buy.
- If you purchase from a meat market or local farmer, eggs do not need to be refrigerated for a few months. (If they haven’t been refrigerated already). These eggs will most likely come unwashed. Once you wash the eggs, they need to be refrigerated. The eggs can happily sit on the counter and not in the fridge due to the protective layer on their eggshell that keeps it from going bad. Washing them removes this protective layer.
Why Going Organic (Or pasture raised) Matters When Buying Eggs
Egg prices are through the roof right now so the thought of buying organic/pasture-raised eggs (or investing in them at this point) might make you cringe. Here’s why choosing organic and or pasture-raised matters.
- Organically raised birds are fed feed that is Certified Organic, and free of GMOs, antibiotics, heavy metals, hormones, animal by-products, and pesticides. The USDA regulations require organic birds to have year-round access to the outdoors, not cooped up in unhealthy living conditions.
- Pastured raised birds roam freely, eating from nature; seeds, grasses, and insects. (Making much healthier and happier birds and producing higher egg quality). These birds are fed feed but in small amounts and have been shown in studies to have higher vitamin D levels due to the fact these birds roam freely in the sun. · Both Organic and pasture-raised eggs are higher in vitamins A and E, and omega-3 fatty acids than conventional eggs.
- Conventional eggs are the standard supermarket eggs. Conventionally raised birds are fed feed that most likely contains GMO soy, corn, and pesticides. These birds’ living conditions are unknown, however, they are supplemented with vitamins and minerals.
- ‘Cage-Free’ is quite similar to conventional –The birds that lay cage-free eggs still get their beaks and wings clipped and live in close quarters with minimal sunlight (and no guaranteed access to the outdoors). Hence, egg quality suffers and the birds may as well.
- Free Range Eggs are produced from birds that ‘may’ be permitted outdoors. The term “free-range” may be used differently depending on the country and the laws, (and is not regulated in many areas).
Don’t Forget Duck Eggs
Duck egg, chicken egg, what’s the difference? They’re both good for your body.
Although not normally found at your local grocery stores, duck eggs are significantly larger than chicken eggs (sometimes), sitting close to two times the size. “Because of this, one might think that a duck egg has double the protein as a chicken egg, but that is not true,” Klessens explains. On average duck eggs contain 9g of protein compared to 6g found in chicken eggs. “However, the duck egg contains a much larger yolk making it have about 10g of fat per egg compared to five grams found in chicken eggs,” Klessens explains.
That said, if you like the creaminess, taste, and size of a duck egg compared to a chicken egg but want to skimp on the fat, you can simply consume one duck egg instead of two chicken eggs.
Don’t fear a bigger egg: Duck eggs contain as much as 168% (or more) of the daily value for Vitamin B-12 making this protein source a great choice for sustained energy, building DNA, and creating new blood cells. Plus, duck eggs are a baker’s best friend adding volume, creaminess, and richness to many baked goods.
TIP: When purchasing any type of eggs, research the company (or even contact them) and see how they raise their hens, what they feed them and how much roaming they do. Free-range doesn’t always mean free range, cage-free doesn’t always mean cage-free. Some brands might be better than others allowing you to save money while consuming a healthier egg option.
The Bottom Line
If you can’t go organic, or go pasture raised don’t stress. Egg prices will come down. If you are wanting to go the healthiest route, specialty stores, farmers markets, and meat markets may have a healthier selection of eggs, even if you live in a city. Some meat markets, specialty stores and farmers markets purchase their eggs from farmers that live out of the city providing city dwellers with cleaner egg options.