The truth about eggs

Protein-rich, easily digestible, packed with vitamins – what’s not to like about eggs? Tricia Wanjala makes the case for this misunderstood wonder food

EggsEggs are good for you. In fact you should eat some today, without any guilt. Dr Gitahi Theuri, Lifestyle Disease Interventionist, raves: “Eggs are excellent. They are the gold standard against which all proteins are measured.”

Proteins are essential for growth, repair and maintenance from infancy to old age. Eggs are a complete food. As such, they are so easy to digest that the Weston A. Price Foundation recommends them for weaning infants. According to trials on babies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “It is practical for weaning infants to consume four egg yolks a week without effects on the intake of other foods.” This practice echoes traditional wisdom, since it was common in Kenya for mothers to mix a beaten egg into hot baby porridge to fortify the meal.

Eggs are also rich in the dietary fats necessary for metabolism. Without these, your body cannot properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins and vital minerals. Eggs contain special long-chain fatty acids and the good cholesterol so critical to brain development and support. In fact, the more good cholesterol you ingest through whole foods like eggs, the less cholesterol your liver produces. Therefore, as Dr Gitahi asserts, “eggs do not raise your cholesterol. Bear in mind that cholesterol is not a disease. You can read all the medical manuals and nowhere will you find cholesterol listed as an illness. On the contrary, cholesterol is the basis your body, making vital hormones including cortisol and all the sex hormones.”

Ron Rosedale, considered one of the world’s leading anti-ageing doctors, puts it even more bluntly, “(Cholesterol) is a vital component of every cell on earth. It is one of our best friends. We would not be here without it.”

Cholesterol myth
Even so, the cholesterol myth (recently debunked in the Time magazine of June 2014, which made a retraction of information they had printed 30 years earlier) has erroneously perpetuated a so-called link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease. According to paleontological nutrition experts, most people in the Western world are greatly deficient in the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K2 and would greatly benefit from the healthy dose that a couple of eggs a day would bring. These beneficial effects greatly outweigh any potential risks, real or imagined.

“The amount that one egg a day raises cholesterol in the blood is extremely small, so small in fact that the increase in risk in heart disease related to this change in serum cholesterol could never be detected in any kind of study,” said Walter Willett, Harvard professor of epidemiology and nutrition. Seventeen other studies reviewed in the British Journal of Medicine in 2014 showed that “higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.” Interestingly, people in Japan – consumers of some of the largest quantities of eggs in the world (averaging 328 eggs per person per year) – have much lower levels of cholesterol and heart disease than other developed countries.

So, the real question is: how do you like your eggs?

Did you know?
1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association determined no link between eggs and heart disease and even went as far to say that regular egg consumption may actually prevent blood clots, stroke and heart attack. This study featured a sample of 37,000 men and 80,000 women.

What eggs should you eat?
Pasture Raised
There is a world of difference between ordinary eggs and pasture raised free-range eggs. Jane Randall, a seller at the Nairobi Organic farmer’s market described her eggs as those that “come from happy chickens.” The chickens are mostly outdoors pecking in a pasture, eating worms, grubs and grass. The family also feeds them a variety of fresh food remnants. Eggs like these are the best you can get. Supermarket labels use catchphrases like ‘organic,’ ‘omega’ and ‘free range’ to describe their eggs, but you can only be sure if you purchase yours from a farmer or health co-operative.

The benefits of eggs
• Cheap and readily available
• Easy to prepare
• Perfect breakfast food for all ages
• Promote weight loss by keeping you full longer than carbohydrates
• Prevent mid-morning energy crash
• High in bioavailable proteins
• High in vitamin A, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, biotin, choline, lutein, folate and other essential nutrients

Tip
Is it fresh? Put your eggs in a bowl of cold water. If they sink, they are good. If they float,
they are not.