Eggs: Quality, Nutrients, & More!
I often say that eggs are nature's truest, synergistic superfood. The yolk and white come together in the perfect combination of fat, protein, and nutrients that our bodies need in one little complete package! Not everyone agrees with eggs, especially those with any sort of autoimmune condition, but on the whole, eggs are an amazing and easy protein and healthy fat source that we can incorporate on a daily basis to our diet.
And no, to answer your question, eating eggs every day will NOT raise your blood cholesterol. Rather, eggs contain oleic acid, a fatty acid critical for heart health, as well as phospholipids which support HDL, reduce blood pressure, improve vascular function, and reduce inflammation, all of which are 100% necessary in prepping the body against cardiovascular disease.
Egg whites are usually the more troublesome of the two, and can interfere with the immune system and gut in those with autoimmune conditions and gut disorders. However, egg yolks tend to be well tolerated and contain most of the nutrients in eggs such as vitamins A, B3, B6, B9, B12, and D along with choline, phosphorous, and selenium. This doesn't necessarily mean that we should separate the two. Remember that the nutrients, protein, and fat work together synergistically when we eat eggs to best absorb the nutrients found inside.
The quality of eggs is also very important. There is a lot of fancy sounding words on labels that can make buying eggs SO confusing. Here's a breakdown of what they all mean, as well as what I recommend as bare minimum quality and top quality.
Organic - the chickens were fed organic feed and may or may not have had outdoor access. The organic label is costly and compliance is verified.
Vegetarian Fed - this implies that the chickens' fed was free of animal by-products. However, chickens are NOT vegetarians, so this label means that the chickens which laid the eggs were not eating their natural diet.
Cage-Free - the chickens had uncaged access inside barns, but may not have had access to the outdoors. This isn't as regulated or audited as the organic label.
Free-Range - chickens must have access to outdoors at least 51% of the time, but there are no restrictions on what they are fed. There isn't third party auditing.
Pasture-Raised - the chickens were raised and allowed to roam freely in their natural environment, as well as eat their natural diet (bugs, plants, etc). There isn't a specific certification for this label.
Typically, I recommend getting your eggs from a local farm. Typically these chickens are pasture-raised without giving it much thought, as they are allowed to roam and eat whatever they wish. However, if you don't have access to this option and need to look for store bought eggs, I usually recommend organic, cage-free as a baseline option, and free-range or pasture-raised as the top quality option. I rarely will buy eggs that say "vegetarian fed" on the label.
You can tell the quality of the nutrients in eggs by the color of the yolk. The deeper orange the yolk, the more nutrient dense it is! I've never had any store bought eggs (even the $7 eggs) come close in color to the eggs I have access to from a farm. There is no comparison!
As far as cooking your eggs, there are a ton of different options. Hard-boiled, scrambled (hopefully with veggies!), over-easy, omelette style, or baked in a muffin tin are the most common ways to make eggs. When using eggs as a protein source though, keep in mind an egg only has about 6 grams of protein. I recommend most people get upwards of 30 grams of protein per meal, so do the math or add in other sources of protein alongside!
How to you like your eggs?