Don’t Fear the Yolk – Whole Eggs are Best!

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For many years, egg yolks have gotten a bad reputation from the medical community for fear that they promote unhealthy cholesterol levels. For this reason, we have been told to avoid the yolks and only eat the egg whites. This rationale comes from experiments where isolated cholesterol was given to test animals and it induced hardening of the arteries. As a result, cholesterol was deemed a bad substance that should be avoided.

However, I think it’s time to put the bad reputation to rest. Whole eggs can be considered a nutrient dense food with a well-rounded nutritional profile. They provide high quality protein and are rich in B vitamins (B2, biotin, choline, inositol, B5, and B12), as well as vitamins A, D, and E. In addition, they provide important minerals such as iron, phosphorus, zinc, and sulfur. Egg yolks also provide cholesterol and lecithin. Cholesterol plays many important roles in the body and is necessary for the production of adrenal hormones, vitamin D, and sex hormones.

In a whole egg, the cholesterol is protected from oxidation by the naturally occurring antioxidant vitamin E. In addition, whole eggs provide synergistic compounds that aid in cholesterol metabolism, such as lecithin. Lecithin assists in the solubility and absorption of cholesterol. And, lecithin is a rich source of phospholipids that play important roles in brain and nervous system health.

When choosing your eggs at the grocery store, there are some important considerations regarding egg quality. Commercially produced eggs are best avoided because they contain synthetic hormones and antibiotics that are harmful to your health. It is also best to avoid freeze-dried or powdered eggs because the processing of these egg products causes cholesterol oxidation. Therefore, it is recommended that you consume certified organic eggs. If you can find a local source for your eggs, that is even better. Look for Grade AA because these are the freshest grade of eggs. And, if possible choose Omega-3 rich eggs from chickens fed flaxseeds in their diet. These eggs provide a rich source of healthy fat, DHA, which is important for cognitive health.

When it comes to cooking your eggs, boiling (soft / hard) and poaching are preferred over frying and scrambling. Cholesterol is susceptible to damage from heat, so frying and scrambling can promote oxidation. A healthy egg is one of the most nutritious and balanced foods. They are a great snack or make a wonderful way to start your day.  Please note though that eggs aren’t for everyone. Some individuals have sensitivities or allergies to eggs.

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June 2011
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