I grew up eating my grandmother’s free range eggs. One of my fondest memories of her country house is when late in the afternoon we would go feed the chickens and collect the eggs from their nests. This was often followed by my grandmother beating up one of the yolks with sugar, to prepare me a soft, sweet and creamy zabaione like no one else could.
As a child, whenever my dad was going to have fried eggs, my sister and I would gather around him and share the honor of breaking into the juicy yolks of his ‘sunny side up’ eggs making it a mouthful with a fragrant piece of bread.
Most school mornings, all through my teen years, mother would wake me up with one of those same grandma’s yolks. She prepared it just like an oyster, on the half shell with lemon. Half asleep, with my head barely off the pillow, I would just open my mouth, and she would literally drop it down my throat. A shot of expresso was always to follow.
For outings or day trips, mother would often prepare meals with our favorite sandwich stuffed with some homemade frittata.
I still love eggs and I am glad that they are back in my pantheon of healthy food choices. Eggs are among the most nutritious food on the planet. A large egg at 77 calories contains:
- 5 grams of good fat: yolks contain essential fatty acids like omega-3 DHA. Egg yolks, especially those from pastured chickens, have an excellent omega 3:6 ratio, too.
- 6 grams of protein, including all 9 essential amino acids.
- Vitamin A: 6% of the RDA.
- Folate: 5% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5: 7% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B12: 9% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B2: 15% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 9% of the RDA.
- Selenium: 22% of the RDA.
- 113 mg of Choline – which is a very important nutrient for the brain, among other things. A study revealed that 90% of Americans may not get enough choline in their diet (1)
- Egg yolks have one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that are highly protective for the eyes
- Egg yolks are also a great source of lecithin, good for liver and skin
- Eggs also contain decent amounts of Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium and Zinc (2)
A few studies showed that eating eggs is a great way to increase HDL (the good cholesterol). Eating the whole egg is essential to get the full effect of a lipidic profile improvement. In one study, 2 eggs per day for 6 weeks increased HDL levels by 10% diet (3)
If you decide to include eggs in your diet (and you should) then make sure to eat pastured eggs. depending on what the hens ate, the nutritional value of the eggs can differ greatly.
In 2007 Mother Earth Magazine performed an independent, third party verified test using 14 flocks around the country. They found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene (4)
In his popular blog Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends consuming eggs raw, provided they come from a trusted source (organic, free range hens). Two raw egg yolks have antioxidant properties equivalent to half a serving of cranberries (25 grams) and almost twice as many as an apple. Raw eggs have twice the nutritional value of cooked eggs, and the eggs from pastured hens besides being more nutritious than conventional eggs, are at lower risk for salmonella. (5)
Cooking changes the nature of animal proteins. When eggs are consumed raw the proteins and enzymes are still intact, allowing you to ingest more usable nutrients. No authoritative scientific proof supports this claim, but there is also no evidence that raw eggs are bad for you. Aside from the dangers of salmonella in unpasteurized eggs, eating raw eggs can be a relatively worry-free endeavor. (6)
According to Dr. Mercola, as long as eggs are pastured and organic, eating them raw is completely safe. The salmonella risk (7) is increased when hens are raised in unsanitary conditions, which is extremely rare for small organic farms where the chickens are raised in clean, spacious coops, have access to sunlight, and forage for their natural food.
Conventional eggs, making up the vast majority of eggs in typical grocery stores, have an increased risk for salmonella, that’s why he advise against eating conventional eggs raw. One study by the British government found that 23 percent of farms with caged hens tested positive for salmonella, (8) compared to just over 4 percent in organic flocks and 6.5 percent in free-range flocks.
According to Rami Nagel, of Natural News regularly consuming raw eggs will benefit your health as the raw egg yolk and white helps your body eliminate stored toxins. Body builder’s have long known that a great way to build healthy muscle without the extra fat is to eat raw eggs regularly.
Raw eggs are used in few homemade recipes. Real mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauce are made with uncooked eggs, as well as Caesar salad dressing, eggnog, cookie dough, ice cream. Some popular Italian desserts like gelato, tiramisu, zabaione, chocolate salami, most semifreddi and Sicilian cassata require raw eggs. These kind of foods when served in food estabilishments, must follow FDA code mandate to use pastorized eggs. (9)
If you decide raw eggs are for you, I suggest you get to know how they are sourced. Join a CSA, get to know your farmer and farming practices. In recent years, people have been raising chickens in their city backyard to ensure freshness, not realizing that the eggs usually end up being leaden with heavy contaminants, especially lead. (10)
The easiest way to eat uncooked eggs is by mixing them into a smoothie. My favorite way to eat a raw yolk, remains my mother’s oyster style recipe. The whites can be whipped into a chantilly cream and consumed with berries and chocolate. Last summer, after quite a few years, I indulged in eating raw eggs again. I stayed at the Nantahala organic farm in North Carolina that has free range chickens and ducks. Most mornings I would enjoy a fresh yolk stirred into homemade goat yogurt.
The American Pregnancy Association advises you to be especially mindful of potential salmonella exposure during pregnancy. When consuming foods made with uncooked eggs, the Mayo Clinic web page on salmonella urges you to eat only foods with pasteurized raw eggs.
What is difference between organic, free range, vegetarian, pasture or omega-3? what do this definitions really mean? To better understand the difference check out this infographic.
Don’t forget to save the shells, as they are the perfect calcium supplement. Egg shell mineral composition is very similar to our teeth and studies in both the Netherlands and Japan showed hey have positive effects bone mineral density. (11)
Grind the egg shells using a coffee grinder, and make your calcium citrate by simply adding some fresh lemon juice.
Read this article by Bee Wilder in the online Nourished Magazine to learn the many ways you can use egg shells to make your very own calcium supplements, much safer and less costlier than the ones you buy
For even more creative ways to use egg shells check out this posting by Jill Winger in The Prairie Homestead where she lists 30 different uses for egg shells.
Helen H Jensen, S Patricia Batres-Marquez, Alicia Carriquiry and Kevin L Schalinske – Choline in the diets of the US population: NHANES, 2003–2004 –Iowa State University
Kris Gunnars – Why Eggs Are Good for You – authoritynutrition.com
Elizabeth Walling – Why I eat Raw Eggs Every Day – The Nurished Life
Mutungi G, Ratliff J, Puglisi M, Torres-Gonzalez M, Vaishnav U, Leite JO, Quann E, Volek JS, Fernandez ML – Dietary Cholesterol from Eggs Increases Plasma HDL Cholesterol in Overweight Men Consuming a Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet – University of Connecticut
Blesso CN, Andersen CJ, Barona J, Volek JS, Fernandez ML – Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome – University of Connecticut
Schnohr P, Thomsen OO, Riis Hansen P, Boberg-Ans G, Lawaetz H, Weeke T. – Egg consumption and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol – Loegernes Test Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Tabitha Alterman – More Great News About Free-Range Eggs, February/March 2009 – Mother Earth News
Joseph Mercola – Mercola.com, Aug. 2010 –
Joseph Mercola – Most Grocery Store Eggs Far More Likely to Be Infected, Feb. 2008- Mercola.com
Joseph Mercola –
FDA – Guidance Regulation – Retail Food Protection Code
Julie Scelfo – High Lead Found in City-Sourced Eggs, Oct 2012 – The New York Times
Chaafsma A, van Doormaal JJ, Muskiet FA, Hofstede GJ, Pakan I, van der Veer E – Positive effects of a chicken eggshell powder-enriched vitamin-mineral supplement on femoral neck bone mineral density in healthy late post-menopausal Dutch women, 2002 – Department of Research & Development Leeuwarden, Friesland Coberco Dairy Foods, The Netherlands
Hirasawa T, Omi N, Ezawa I – Effect of 1alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 and egg-shell calcium on bone metabolism in ovariectomized osteoporotic model rats, 2001. Department of Food and Nutrition – Japan Women’s University, Tokyo.
This content is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet.