We threw out the baby with the bathwater when we decided eggs were bad for us 20 or so years ago.
Eggs are an incredibly inhumane food, when they’re extracted from hens in tiny battery cages who spend their whole lives in darkened sheds.
But eggs from cage-free hens, from real farms and backyard chickens, especially the ones that get some grass in their diet, are healthy wonderful things. They contain needed Omega-3 oils and provide an array of other nutrients in a high protein package.
Yes, they have cholesterol. But studies now show that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t necessarily translate to cholesterol in the blood. The cholesterol in=cholesterol out theory was an oversimplification.
That whole thing about avoiding the yolks, and reducing our egg consumption to avoid heart attacks was a rush to judgment based, in hindsight, on rough science. The new truth is much more nuanced.
Several recent studies have shown that eating six eggs a week did not raise either heart attack or stroke risk, except among those who already had Type 2 diabetes. Eggs, in fact, increased the HDL or “good” cholesterol in many participants. (See this blog at The World’s Healthiest Foods for more.)
Among the vital nutrients in eggs is one that’s especially precious, the choline in the yolks.
Choline can be found in other foods, certain meats, nuts, beans, spinach. But eggs are an especially rich source.
Choline, according to WebMD, acts in a way that’s similar to B vitamins. It boosts cellular function in the brain. It may be helpful for people with certain neurological conditions to make sure they get enough choline (fyi – we’re talking several whole eggs in a week, but not gluttonous amount).
It appears that choline may help reduce the inflammation that causes asthma and could mitigate the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, cerebellar ataxia and schizophrenia. Eggs, especially pastured eggs, also contain selenium, a mineral that’s helpful for mental health and optimal thyroid functioning. While we only need trace amounts of selenium, it’s important to get enough because this mineral has been shown to help protect against depression in people of any age and cognitive decline in older people.
The science is still being worked out, but the recent evidence suggests that eggs, with their yolks, in moderation, are a good for us, not something to fear. Make sure to eat pastured eggs from chickens that led normal lives.
Look for pastured eggs at your local farmer’s market or coop. At the grocery, look for eggs that are Organic, carry a “humanely raised” certification and also are “pastured.”