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Eggs and Cholesterol — Safe or Not?

Many years ago a negative advertising campaign was run concerning eggs. There were ads on TV and on billboards, with images of four eggs being led into a jail cell, and another ad showing them behind bars.

This was part of a campaign to influence consumers that eating eggs was dangerous and could contribute to heart disease (which was incorrect). As a result, many people stopped eating them or greatly reduced the amount they ate.

Even today, people still remain afraid of eating healthy eggs or eating too many, all due to that falsities spread about through that campaign. We'll, we looked to several experts in the field of nutrition to find out what they had to say.

Today, what do nutritional experts say about eggs in your diet?

“The egg is nearly the perfect food for health and reducing your weight. It is easily digestible as well as a complete food. Eggs give your liver the building blocks it needs to repair your body. Cholesterol levels are not raised by eating them and you can reduce your weight by including them in your diet.”

“Eggs contain ingredients to develop a healthy body including nearly all of the essential nutrients such as B-1, B-6, folic acid and B-12. They contain such minerals as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. Choline and biotin, which are important for energy and stress reduction, are also found in eggs. Eggs are also complete in all amino acids (protein building blocks), which are found in the yolk.”

“The fat in the egg yolk is in nearly perfect balance. These essential fats are very important in the regulation of cholesterol. This is because the antidote* to cholesterol is lecithin, which helps dissolve cholesterol and the yolk is loaded with lecithin. Make sure not to overcook the egg yolk, as this will destroy the lecithin. These yolk fats in your diet lower the risk for heart disease.”

“Eggs have almost zero carbohydrates and have the highest rating for complete proteins (containing all the amino acids) of any food. Amino acids are necessary for repairing tissue as well as making hormones and brain chemicals.”

“As a side note, many people are afraid of eating egg yolks because of cholesterol. The fact is that most of the cholesterol found in our blood is not there because of what we eat. It's our livers that make approximately 75{114389e5b2ecdd1bd004022072a0138c99dd783831fedb225696e2b41cedfd2c} of the cholesterol that exists in our blood.”

“The more cholesterol we eat, the less the body will make. The less cholesterol we eat, the more the body will make. If cholesterol were so bad for us, why would our bodies make so much?”

“The body is a remarkable system that knows exactly what to do to create the correct balance. When we consume foods containing cholesterol, we only absorb 1 to 2 mg of cholesterol per pound of body weight a day. So even if we were to eat a dozen eggs each day, we would only absorb about 300 mg of cholesterol, which is, by the way, the recommended maximum daily amount.”

“On a personal note: I have been eating four organic eggs every morning for the past 6 years and never felt better. My cholesterol is also within the normal range (below 200).”

excerpted from Dr. Berg's BODY SHAPE DIETS
by Dr. Eric Berg

So yes, they're very safe and excellent source of nutrition for the whole family. They should be made a regular part of the diet. But not all eggs are the same; another expert on nutrition tells us how to chose them:

“You can kiss your fear of eggs good-bye. There have been a number of previous studies that have supported that eggs do not raise your risk of heart disease. So go ahead and have your eggs as they are one of the healthiest foods on the planet.”

“While you are at it, please be sure and purchase healthy eggs as they are not that much more expensive than commercial factory raised chicken eggs. Please be sure to look for ‘free range organic' on the box.”

“Just as important as where you purchase your eggs is how you prepare them for eating.”

“If you want to fine tune eating your eggs, it is best not to cook them. This helps preserve many of the highly perishable nutrients, some of which are very effective at preventing the most common cause of blindness, called age-related macular degeneration*.”

“Some may be concerned about the risk of salmonella* from raw eggs, but I analyzed the risk a few years ago and most people have a better chance of getting the lottery than contracting salmonella from eggs from healthy chickens. Personally I consume three raw eggs nearly every morning as part of my breakfast and believe it has enormously contributed to my health.”

Excerpted from Dr. Joseph Mercola's comment on an article appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol.80, No. 4, 855-861, October 2004

Eggscellent Questions:

How Much is Too Much?

Unfortunately, at the time of this article, locating studies that scientifically validated an answer to that question was difficult.

However… as an interesting side note, we did find a case study (a study with only one individual). It was an 88 year old man who consumed 25 per day.

He had normal cholesterol levels and was in very good health. (1)

Of course, a study of one person doesn't substantiate any claim as to whether a certain amount is good or bad; we did find it to be a fun read nonetheless.

However, it's important to keep in mind that not all are of the same quality. Many sold at the supermarket are from chickens that are raised in factories and fed grain-based feeds.

The healthiest are Omega-3 enriched, or eggs from hens that are raised on pasture. These tend to be much higher in Omega-3s and offer important fat-soluble vitamins. (2, 3)

Are Brown Healthier Than White?

Often, people who prefer brown eggs do so because they believe they are more natural and healthier than white. But the truth is, they are nutritionally, quite similar regardless of size, grade or color.

Scientists even compared eggs with brown shells to those with white shells to see if there is any difference. Those studies have found that shell color has no significant effect on egg quality and composition. (4)

However, there are other factors that can affect the nutritional content of an egg such as the hen's feed and it's environment. In fact, one study concluded that, “…the vitamin D3 content of egg yolk was three- to fourfold higher in the groups that were exposed to sunlight (outdoor and indoor/outdoor groups) compared with the indoor group.” (5).

Hens fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids produce eggs that contain much higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than normal. The same effect has been found with vitamin D when chickens eat vitamin-D-enriched feed (6, 7).

Why Are Brown Eggs More Expensive?

Even though brown and white eggs seem to be so similar (other than color), why do the brown ones tend to cost us more at the store?

Earlier, we mentioned that consumers tend to believe that brown ones were healthier or higher-quality than white. But that being said, it was not the cause of higher prices. So what is?

In truth, brown eggs cost more because in the past, brown-laying hens tended to be larger and lay fewer eggs than white-laying hens. Therefore, brown eggs needed to be sold at a higher price to make up for the extra costs. Today, brown-laying hens have nearly the same production costs as white-laying hens. Nevertheless, they still tend to come with a higher price tag (8).

Next time you're at a Farmers Market, Trader Joes, Whole foods or any other supermarket, we invite you to take a look in the dairy section; notice that specialty eggs, such as free-range or organic, tend to be brown rather than white. That could lead to a possible explanation.

Bottom Line – Conclusion

Given the incredible range of nutrients and health benefits, quality eggs may just be one of the most, nutritious foods on the planet. So, brown or white, be sure to include them regularly in your daily diet or certainly in your weekly diet, for improved health and nutrition.

Looking for some healthy recipes? Check these out: Healthy Recipes