Are Eggs Good For You?
Really, they’ve been much maligned throughout the years as a food that will do nothing but drive up your cholesterol numbers, but is it really true? Will eggs lead you to an early grave, or do they have a welcome place at the table if you’re trying to lose fat and gain muscle? After all, back in the day before $50 supplements, bodybuilders used to choke down raw eggs like candy.
First of all, I have to make an admission. I don’t eat eggs. (Shhh, don’t tell) Don’t like ’em much, never have. That doesn’t mean however, that I can’t recognize when a food has solid potential as health oriented fare. Americans must love them, even if I don’t, because they eat about 28 million of the little white/brown orbs every day.
First, the plus side of egg eating. They are loaded with very high quality protein. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of what most people think of when it comes to listing off the positive attributes of those never-quite-made-it-to-be chickens.
Egg Whites Only Please, or Eat the Whole Damned Egg?
Do eggs have more to recommend them, or are they simply a high quality amino acid cocktail? After all, most health oriented individuals would simply eat the whites, or buy a carton of egg white and be done with it. Although you would definitely get great protein that way, you’d actually be tossing some of the most beneficial parts of the egg.
That’s right, the yolk is what feeds the chicks in a fertilized egg, and nourishes the embryo as it grows like a weed on it’s way to hatching. The great thing is that all those nutrients in the egg yolk ca support you too. What many people don’t know is that egg yolks are chock full of antioxidants, and that’s not nearly all.
In fact, that bright yellow blob in the middle is a rich source of minerals, such as phosphorus, zinc, calcium, and iron. It’s also loaded with important vitamins like thiamin, B6, folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid in addition to vitamins A, D, E, and K . And, if you order now, you’ll also get essential fatty acids (EFAs)! Free range chickens have more of the EFAs in their eggs than those of most commercially raised fowl.
What About my Cholesterol Levels? Won’t They Go Up When I Eat Eggs?
Well, yes but the good news is that your good cholesterol (HDL) will go up faster than your bad kind (LDL). Not only that, but you body will compensate to a large extent for your diet. It makes cholesterol on its own, and it will simply make less if you eat more of it. That’s why you can have a diet rich in eggs, but a cholesterol of 160.
The Study Says….
To prove it, a 2008 study published in The European Journal of Nutrition discovered that test subjects that ate a low calorie diet that included 2 eggs per day, lost both body fat and lowered their cholesterol levels. This, despite eating two of the supposed cholesterol level raising eggs each and every day for the duration of the study.
The experiment’s control group ate no eggs. Both groups lost between 7 and 9 lbs, but the egg eating group actually had their HDL levels stay the same, while their LDL levels dropped. The control group experienced no such reduction.
What it all means is that you should eat the whole egg. Yes, you’ll get more calories, but the nutrition you’ll get in return is more than worth it. After all, you need to get calories anyway, and it’s important that you get a solid nutrient profile in them when you do.
To maximize the nutrient content and minimize anything you really wouldn’t want to be eating, try organic, cage free eggs or eggs from free range hens. Hens that eat a natural diet have more nutritious eggs, and as I mentioned above, will give you more EFAs. Remember that you need those good fats to maximize fat burning, so the added calories you get from the yolks are offset this way as well.
The Bottom Line on Eggs
Yes, eggs are good for you, just make sure you don’t eat them raw to prevent a bout of salmonella. That’s not a great way to spend a few days, and can cause serious problems in those with compromised immune systems. I know I forgot to discuss the minus side of eating eggs, but unless you go overboard, there really is only any upside. Some people are allergic to eggs, so if this describes you, just fill your diet with something else.
If you have any favorite egg recipes, please post a comment with them so we can all enjoy them.