Food is no longer just food, especially when it comes to animal protein. It's not that simple anymore.
Animals and plants are raised and grown radically different depending on the conditions and practices of the farmer.
Quality is of the utmost importance.
Knowing what to look for is the first step in getting the highest quality you have access to.
Nutritional Profile of Eggs
1 whole, large egg (50 grams) contains:
- Calories: 72.
- Protein: 6 grams.
- Fat: 5 grams.
- Vitamin A: 9% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 13% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 8% of the RDI.
- Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): 7% of the RDI.
- Selenium: 22% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus: 10% of the RDI.
- Folate: 6% of the RDI.(1)
The worst thing you can do is remove the yolk, which is the healthiest part of the egg, and eat only the white.
7 Proven Health Benefits of Eggs
1. Helps With Weight Loss
Eggs contain all the essential amino acids which make it a great dietary source of protein.
What is really special about the protein in eggs is that all the essential amino acids are also in the right ratios that our bodies need for optimal health.
Proper amounts of good-quality protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism, due to the thermic effect of foods. (2)
2. Improves Skin Health
Eggs are loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin which are carotenoids that have been shown to have protective benefits from the oxidative damage light can cause to your skin.(5)
The healthy fatty acids in eggs also contribute to your skin health and helping to prevent dry skin as well as age spots.
3. Amazing for Brain Function
Egg yolks are one of the best food sources of choline which is an essential nutrient to our bodies that we need to get from food sources. (6)
Choline has been shown to help with increasing your cognitive performance and memory, as well as help reduce various neurological problems such as depression and possible even dementia. (7)
Your liver is also dependent on choline and not getting enough can result in fatty liver disease or even certain types of cancer.
4. Raise HDL Cholesterol
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is commonly referred to as the "good cholesterol" since it has been shown to help reduce your risk for stroke, heart disease, and various other issues.(8)(9)
Eating whole eggs can increase your levels of HDL cholesterol, and as a result, benefit your overall health. (10)
5. Improve your Eye Health
The carotenoids mentioned previously that help with skin health, lutein and zeaxanthin, also provide direct benefits to your eye health.
Studies have shown these two powerful antioxidants go to the retina of the eye and can help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. (11)
Phit Tip: Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin that plays a big role in eye health as well.
6. Lower Triglycerides
Whole eggs are an excellent source of healthy fats, particularly pasture-raised eggs which have far more omega-3 content.
These omega-3 rich eggs have been shown to greatly reduce levels of triglycerides, which are a type of fat that in high concentrations in your blood can elevate risk for certain diseases. (12)
7. Help Prevent Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome includes problematic health issues such as obesity (high body fat), abnormal cholesterol, and high blood sugar level.
This can lead to a number of serious chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
This study found a correlation between higher egg consumption and a decreased risk in metabolic syndrome. (13)
The healthy fats, high-quality protein, and large number of essential nutrients in eggs may very likely extend lifespan and reduce your risk for numerous diseases.
Phit Tip: Consume raw non-starchy vegetable alongside your eggs as they work synergistically to improve the absorption of carotenoids (antioxidants). (14)
"The healthy fatty acids in eggs also contribute to your skin health and helping to prevent dry skin as well as age spots."
Egg Designations and What They Mean
Knowing what all the various terms to designate eggs can be tricky. This is an excellent explanation of each designation written by Toby Amidor.(15)
- Caged: Hens are confined to cages with a 67-square inch space each. They never see the light of day and consume a corn or soy diet. Over 90 percent of eggs in the U.S. come from hens that are kept in cages for their entire egg-laying lives.
- Cage-Free: These ladies have more room than caged hens, since each is given less than 1 square foot. Still, they’re not entirely “free,” since they’re confined to barns and consume a corn or soy diet.
- Free-Range: Allotted less than 2 square feet per hen, these animals have more space than their caged and cage-free peers, but they don’t get outdoors as much as you may think. Some seldom get to see the light of day and many eat a corn- or soy-based feed.
- Pasture-Raised: These ladies are given at least 108 square feet each and consume some feed and lots of grass, bugs, worms and anything else they can find in the dirt. They tend to be let out of the barns early in the morning and called back in before nightfall.
“Pastured-raised hens also produce according to a 2003 study out of Pennsylvania State University. In it, researchers found that one pasture-raised egg contains twice as much omega-3 fat, three times more vitamin D, four times more vitamin E and seven times more beta-carotene than eggs from hens raised on traditional feed” (16)
As you can see, Pasture-Raise is the best type of eggs you can get.
Organic: This designation refers to the food that is being fed to the hens, not their living conditions.
You can have cage-free, overcrowded hens that are being fed organic grains and they can have the USDA organic designation.
Similarly, you can have pasture-raised hens that are being fed GMO conventional grains.
Ideally, you want Pasture-Raised Organic Eggs. That is the highest quality commercial eggs you can buy from the store.
The Healthiest Way to Cook Eggs
How you cook your eggs can make a difference in the nutritional value as heat can damage health fats, denature proteins, and destroy nutrients and enzymes.
Here is the order of cooking methods listed from best to worst:
1) Soft Boiled
2) Medium/hard boiled
4) Sunny side up
5) Over easy (runny yolk)
6) Scrambled or pan fried until yolk is fully cooked
Having your eggs cooked in water is always ideal since the temperature never exceed 212 degrees F.
When cooking on a stove top, always use lowest setting on you burner and cook your eggs low and slow.
If you dislike runny yolks and prefer your eggs scrambled, no need to obsess over how you prepare them. You are better off having your eggs fully cooked to your liking then not having any at all.
4 Indicators of a Healthy Eggs
Other than the label on the carton, how can you tell if it is a good quality egg?
There are 4 indicators I use to determine how high-quality an egg is.
1. Color of the Yolk - a deep orange yolk is a good sign you are eating a nutrient rich egg. This color is due to higher nutrient content such as carotenoids. Pale yellow yolks are not ideal.
2. Roundness of the yolk - you want the yolk to be very rounded and pronounced, not flat.
3. How hard is the shell - This is a good way to determine if the hen was getting adequate minerals in their diet. You want a hard shell that is difficult to crack open.
4. If the white stays or runs - If you crack the egg on a plate, if the egg holds together well it is a good sign. It the white runs all over the place it is not as good.
Always go For High-Quality Eggs When Possible
Having low-quality eggs coming from sick hens can be problematic to your health.
Many commercially raised chickens are subjected to horrific living conditions, never seen the light of day, administered hormones and antibiotics, and are fed gmo grains.
These eggs are both unhealthy for you to consume and bad for the environment.
Good quality, pasture-raised organic eggs will cost you more money, but it is a great investment in your health and well worth the extra cost.
Hopefully you now understand how truly amazing high-quality, whole eggs can be to improving your health.