The wonderful and delicious egg is really incredible and edible. And there are many wonderful ways to cook them.
Who said egg yolks were unhealthy?
Why eggs are wholesomely good and six reasons to eat the whole egg
By TIM SKWIAT, Contributing Writer
Even though it shouldn’t, I still find it astonishing that some people think eggs—better said, egg yolks—are unhealthy. I shake my head when folks brag about their egg-white omelets. And I melt in disappointment when I hear nutritionists suggest fat-free egg substitutes.
If any of this sounds familiar, please don’t take it personally. It’s not your fault. It’s been beaten—no pun intended—into our heads over the years that egg yolks are “bad” for us. On top of that, many of us have been conditioned to believe fat is the dietary devil, so to speak. Fortunately, we do seem to be turning a collective corner as far as that goes due to the tireless, persistent efforts of health crusaders. Finally.
In other words, fat does not make you fat. What’s more, fat, including saturated fat, is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease. While we’re bursting mythical nutrition bubbles, let’s let the cat out of the bag: the cholesterol found in eggs—and any animal food, for that matter—has no appreciable impact on blood cholesterol. As a matter of fact, eggs can be quite heart healthy.
Now that the table has been set, let’s serve the main course: Six reasons you should eat the whole egg.
1. Egg yolks are packed with nutrients. For starters, nearly half of the protein in an egg is found in the yolk. And while many people shy away from egg yolks because of their fat content, the fatty acid profile is relatively balanced. The greatest contribution of fat comes from “heart healthy” monounsaturated fats. Even more, egg yolks contain the essential omega-3 fatty acid DHA. This is critical for eye, brain, and heart health.
On top of that, all the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) are found in the yolk. So too are potent antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which we’ll be coming back to again and again. What’s more, virtually all the following vitamins and minerals packaged in the incredible, edible egg are in the yolk: calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, panthothenic acid, Vitamins B6, B12, and Folate.
Eggs boost brain health. When you eat the whole egg, yolks are a very good source of vitamin B12. This vitamin energizes the brain and provides crucial protection by eliminating potentially toxic compounds (i.e., homocysteine) and supporting long-term nerve health and function. Eggs are also one of the few excellent sources of choline.
And nearly all of it is in the yolk. A lesser-known nutrient that supports brain health and nervous system function, choline is the main building block of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Its significance in nervous system function cannot be overstated. The brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress. Eggs again are rich in the antioxidants lutein, and zeaxanthin, which fight free radical damage. Lutein also boosts levels of compounds which protect existing brain cells, help create new ones, and improve neuroplasticity (the brain’s capacity to keep developing, changing, and healing itself). So it enhances the ability to learn and master new tasks.
Eggs-ray vision and heart healthy
Hopefully you’re not tired of hearing about lutein and zeaxanthin. Referred to as the “macular carotenoids,” they act as primary filters of high-energy blue light. Plus, they support visual health and acuity by protecting against oxidative stress and inﬂammation. Specifically, this duo acts as a protective shield against damaging UV rays and harmful free radicals. As a result, they are often referred to as “natural sunglasses.”
What’s more, the all-important omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, highly regarded for numerous health benefits including eye health and vision support, can also be found when you eat the whole egg. Despite what you’ve probably been led to believe, regular egg consumption is heart healthy. In a recent 14-week crossover study, researchers from the University of Connecticut showed healthy adults eating 1-3 eggs per day for 4 weeks experienced a significant improvement in their blood lipid profile, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease, compared to eating no eggs. Other studies have shown no association between egg consumption and risk of heart disease. At best, they’ve shown significant improvements in blood lipids to potentially lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Overall, eggs from pasture-raised hens provide a variety of nutrients that support cardiovascular health. This includes B vitamins (B12, folate), omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA), and carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin). For instance, EPA and DHA are well-known for their beneficial effects on heart health, as research has shown they may lower triglycerides by up to 50 percent and result in a 45 percent reduction in cardiovascular events.
Eggs can help trim the fat
When it comes to the battle of the bulge, appetite and satiety (feelings of fullness and satisfaction) are two critical factors that influence food intake. In a recent crossover study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers found that, compared to eating oatmeal, when healthy participants ate two eggs for breakfast daily for four weeks, they reported significant improvements in satiety, which correlated with lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
Additional research has shown when you eat the whole egg for breakfast, it increases levels of additional satiety hormones, which decrease food intake and promote blood sugar control. Eggs are a good source of protein. And studies have shown protein-rich meals boost satiety, improve appetite control, reduce snacking, improve diet quality, reduce food motivation and reward, and support healthy weight management. In addition, eggs are also rich in healthy fats, which also help increase feelings of fullness and satisfaction
Not surprisingly, research has shown eating eggs daily for breakfast is an effective strategy to help control body weight. One study showed eating two eggs for breakfast helped overweight dieters lose 65 percent more weight and feel more energetic than those who ate a bagel breakfast of equal calories and volume.
Enhance athletic performance
Speaking of protein, eggs are one of the highest quality sources of any whole food available. In a recent review in Nutrition Today, researchers analyzed more than 25 protein studies and concluded the natural, high-quality protein in eggs contributes to strength, power, and energy in several ways: The protein in eggs helps promote steady, sustained energy because it helps support healthy carbohydrate metabolism and glycemic control. As a result, eggs help prevent a rebound effect or energy crash common with poor carbohydrate management. Further, eggs provide several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B6, and B12) required for energy production.
Dietary protein directly influences muscle mass, strength, and function in people of all ages. Eggs are a good source of protein, with a single egg providing six grams of high-quality protein, which can help individuals build and preserve muscle mass and promote healthy aging like the prevention of muscle loss. Eggs are also rich in the amino acid leucine, which is a “trigger” for building muscle, promotes recovery, and contributes to the body’s ability to use energy.
The high-quality protein in eggs provides all the essential amino acids our bodies need to build and maintain muscle mass. In fact, the quality of egg protein is so high scientists often use eggs as the “gold standard” for evaluating the protein quality of other foods.
And of course, no matter how you like them prepared (personally. The bottom line: eggs are packed with nutrition. If you regularly eat the whole egg, you are receiving some substantial health benefits you’d otherwise miss out on when you trash the yolk. When it comes to choosing eggs, your best bet is to purchase eggs from pasture-raised hens, which tend to have a slightly healthier nutrition profile.
Tim Skwiat has a master's degree in Sports Science & Nutrition, is a Precision Nutrition Coach and a NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Amie and daughter Parker Ashlee.
Recipes: Healthiest ways to cook eggs
By CRISTINA POWELL, Contributing Writer
Which came first … the chicken or the egg? Some would argue that the egg certainly must have come first, but not necessarily the chicken egg. So, it seems we aren’t going to lay this argument to rest anytime soon. Whether you side with scientists or philosophers, I think we can all agree that eating the whole egg is beneficial to your health.
In my humble opinion, cooking the egg is crucial, as we don’t want to subject ourselves to that harmful bacteria known as salmonella. I am sure most of our parents have put that fear in us at a very early age, but truth be told, this risk is actually very low. Regardless, cooked eggs contain a better source of protein and can allow for more nutrient absorption. This is not to say cooked eggs have more protein than raw, but rather our bodies absorb 50-60 percent of the protein in raw eggs compared to 90 percent of the protein in cooked eggs.
But does it matter how you cook this whole egg?
Eggs are a complete source of protein. One single serving egg contains 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and zero carbs. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, eggs contain vitamins A, D, E, B2, B12, and biotin along with iron, potassium, calcium, and selenium. Eggs also contain choline and folate, two important nutrients for supporting cell growth, brain health, and healthy pregnancies.
Healthiest ways to cook and eat eggs
1. Hard-Boiled Eggs. This method of cooking eggs keeps the egg intact, does not include any added cooking oils or additives, and makes for a really healthy and portable snack, especially for busy folks on the go. You just toss the egg, in its shell, into a pot of boiling water and allow it to cook for the desired time, and voila! There is some controversy over just how long to cook an egg for the perfect result, and I would say that depends. If you are looking for a firm yolk that is pastel yellow in color, then I would boil for roughly 7 minutes, then turn off the heat, and allow the egg to continue bathing in the warm water.
If you are more partial to a soft-boiled yolk, which is a golden yellow and slightly runny, then you are looking at closer to 5 minutes. Once cooked, remove from heat altogether, and soak in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
2. Poached Eggs. If you have ever had Eggs Benedict, chances are you have enjoyed poached eggs. This method involves keeping the egg intact but cooking out of the shell. Similar to the hard-boiled egg, you cook the egg in a pot of boiling water, but you are cracking it into the boiling water, allowing it to cook without its shell, then removing from the water before consuming. And this doesn’t include any cooking oils, or additives, so your calories are coming solely from the egg itself. Since you are essentially leaving the yolks runny, it would be best to use pasteurized eggs to avoid that pesky salmonella we discussed earlier. The end result is like a puffy cloud or pillow of white, surrounding a golden-yellow fluid yolk. This is perfect for enjoying solo or on your favorite toasted bread. My personal favorite is with Canadian bacon, and Hollandaise sauce, atop an English muffin. Another variation of the popular Eggs Benedict is with smoked salmon and spinach.
3. Sous Vide Eggs. Starbucks has made sous vide egg bites a trendy way to enjoy eggs. While this method is similar to both the hard boiling or poaching eggs, in that you are cooking the egg in boiling water, you are doing so inside a vacuum sealed bag. The beauty of using this method is that since the egg is contained in a bag or mold, you can add various other ingredients such as cheese, meats or vegetables. There are a few options for these at my local grocery store, Starbucks has three varieties to choose from, and with the invention of the Instant Pot, you can easily make your own. I have actually created my own copycat recipe herewith:
Bacon and Gruyere Egg Bites
1/2 cup gruyere cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup cooked bacon (crumbled)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add first three ingredients to a blender and mix until combined.
Add bacon and give a few quick pulses to get it evenly distributed and broken down a bit.
Pour mixture into silicon egg mold (Instant Pot).
Add one cup of water to Instant Pot, and insert trivet.
Place egg mold on top of trivet.
Set timer to pressure cook 8-10 minutes.
Allow eggs to set for a minute or two before attempting to remove. Enjoy!
Chef's Note: You can add anything to these that your heart desires. The two constants are the eggs and cottage cheese, but let your creativity run wild in terms of the mix ins. Cream cheese works well, so does Monterey Jack. I am a huge fan of Gruyere in this, but then again, cheese is one of my favorite foods.
4. Scrambled Eggs. In case you missed it, I have rolled up my sleeves and cooked eggs six ways to determine the best way to make scrambled eggs. It is important to keep in mind that the best tasting eggs may not necessarily be the healthiest, but in my opinion, as long as you are mindful of the types of fats and oils you are using, you can cook them whichever way you prefer. Some enjoy whisking them with water, some with butter, while others use milk or cream. It is not only a matter of taste but texture.
5. Baked Eggs. If you haven’t made individual baked eggs, then you are really missing out. You can simply crack an egg into a muffin tin and cook several of them this way as they freeze beautifully for a quick and easy breakfast any day of the week. You can add various toppings such as bacon, mushrooms, and tomatoes. You can also bake a quiche, which is just using the scrambled egg mixture, usually combined with vegetables and/or meats, and served like a pie. A great way to dodge unwanted calories is to make a quiche sans crust. The egg will form its own little crust and hold everything together nicely. When I am feeding a large crowd, I like to throw a dozen eggs along with everything but the kitchen sink into a casserole dish and bake it.
One such recipe has become my go-to for hurricane prep, which occurs right about the end of summer every year. When you are busy running around boarding up windows and making sure you have plenty of candles, the last thing you want to worry about is meal prep.
6. Fried Eggs. I know, I know…you never thought I would have a fried food listed in one of my healthiest foods articles, but eggs are different. To fry an egg, all you really need is a non-stick pan or a little pat of butter or cooking spray. Simply crack the egg into the pre-heated pan and allow to cook. There are two ways this can be done. The first is to allow the egg to cook on only one side, also known as sunny-side up, which leaves the yolk a little runny. Much like the poached egg, this is great with a side of toasty bread.
The second is to gently flip the egg once the white is no longer translucent, allowing the yolk to cook a little further, also known as over-easy. I generally cook eggs this way when I am going to add them atop a plate of veggies or hash. Pretty much any way your eggs are scrambled (or fried, baked, hardboiled, etc.) is a good way to eat this nutrient-packed food. So, pick your favorite, and enjoy!
Cristina Powell is a Metabolic Effect Nutrition consultant and a nutrition coach. Her passion is to help others discover how great their bodies are meant to feel through healthy eating and an active lifestyle.