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7.25.2012

Eat the whole thing: Eggs!

Mmmm... egg yolks.

Eggs got a bad wrap in the 80's and 90's during the war on saturated fat and cholesterol.  This is unfortunate because, as my kids can tell you (because I think I say it at least once a day...) I think eggs are the closest thing to the perfect food.  If I could eat nothing else, I would eat eggs, because they are cheap, compact, and provide more nutrients both by volume and by cost than any other food.  I would choose them not only because I love them, but because if I were going to only eat one thing, I would want to eat the thing that makes me feel the best.  I think that would be eggs.



The solution to this war on cholesterol was, unfortunately, the advent of egg white only cooking... or worse, refrigerated egg replacement products.  I know, I was as much of a victim of this as everyone else.  Fortunately I now know better.

You see, even if they could prove that saturated fat caused heart disease (and they can't), they have pretty clearly proven that dietary cholesterol does not raise blood serum cholesterol levels, and (same link) that eating eggs does not raise your risk of heart disease.

So eggs are good for you, but why not play it safe and eat egg whites, just in case they're wrong again?  Lots of reasons:
  • Egg yolks contain most of the nutrients, most notably ALL of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K, and nearly all of the B vitamins.  In fact, the only nutrients of worth that are more present in the white than the yolk are magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
  • Egg white, on the other hand, contains avidin, which is an antinutrient that keeps the body from absorbing biotin, a nutrient that is especially important for pregnant women and children (because aren't they all!).  While cooking neutralizes some of the avidin, some remains.  If the egg white is consumed alone this could potentially block all other dietary sources of biotin, a trace nutrient many of us are already deficient in.
  • Eating either more eggs or, even better, just the yolk, could resolve some of the most prevalent nutrient deficiencies in the U.S.- vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, and Folate among others.
  • Specifically, eggs are high in choline, which an estimated 90% of Americans are deficient in.  Choline is especially important for pregnant women because it is vital to the development of the brain in the developing fetus.  Choline has also been linked to lower levels of inflammation in the body.
  • Egg eaters (not egg white eaters...) weigh less than those who eat a calorically equivalent carbohydrate based breakfast.
  • Several studies show consuming egg yolks actually lowers overall cholesterol and improves HDL/LDL ratios in some patients (and cholesterol remains neutral in most of the rest).
  • Eating whole eggs protects your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts. 
  • The yolk contains essential fatty acids DHA and Arachidonic acid, which among many other essential functions help promote a healthy sex drive.
  • Last, but most importantly... egg whites taste like rubbery styrofoam.  I don't care how much crap you beat into them, without the yolks, there is no joy.  And second to achieving vibrant health (but only second by a hair), food should inspire joy.

Sources:
The World's Healthiest Foods: Eggs
The Incredible Edible Egg Yolk
Vitamins for Fetal Development: Conception to Birth

This post has been shared at Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday, Cooking TF's Traditional Tuesday, Real Food Forager's Fat Tuesday, and Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday.

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