Eggs: Good or Bad?

Eggs get a bad rap. Are they good for you or bad for your? Should you eat just the egg whites? Or not eat eggs at all? What about ALL that cholesterol?

One large whole egg is low in calories and sodium, and provides more than 6g of protein. Numerous vitamins, including vitamin A, potassium and many B vitamins like folic acid, choline and biotin, are also packed into this oval-shaped staple, which are specifically needed for the health of the nerves and the brain. In fact, the incredible (edible) egg is one of the more diverse foods in terms of nutrient density, a nutrient powerhouse, if you will.

However, eggs (the yolks specifically) do contain cholesterol, which is part of why they have been snubbed as “too high in fat”. Yet, these are the same healthy fats that need for necessary hormonal development and healthy cell structure.

But every egg is not created equal. It’s best to buy any source of protein from an environment that is as natural as possible, meaning the animal was able to feed on foods that its body could tolerate, in conditions that were not overly stressful. For egg-producing chickens, this environment is often called “cage-free” or “free-range.” This means the chicken was allowed to roam, picking what it wanted to eat. Research has shown that cage-free hens have produced eggs higher in various vitamins. Chickens packaged tightly in cages undergo stress, lowering their immune systems and raising their likelihood of infection. Frequent infections are a common problem for animals raised in cramped quarters. Many times, chickens are given regular antibiotics to help keep down infection rates.

When purchasing eggs, choose those that were grown in a free-range or cage-free environment, or better yet, purchase eggs directly from a farmer who focuses on growing eggs in a healthy environment. Eggs that say “organic” or “omega-3″ have the right idea, but will still not be as good as cage-free.

To obtain the most nutritional value from your eggs, try to keep the yolk runny, as in soft-boiled eggs vs. scrambled. Cooking eggs at high temperatures, as in any food, can “denature” the proteins and fats, so keep the scrambling to a minimum, but however you like them is better than not at all.

So, have no fear, the poor, misunderstood, incredible, edible egg is here to stay.