Get yolked? you might be wondering. But no, not in the gym rat, meat head, body builder sense you might be thinking of, but get yolked in the egg yolk sense. The days of egg-whites only are numbered, the yolk is making a big comeback thanks to recent research and the US government changing its recommendations. The days of vilifying yolks as the cholesterol, heart clogging, enemy are over. The American journal of clinical nutrition reported in a recent study on more than 1000 middle-aged men that “egg or cholesterol intakes were not associated with increased CAD (cardiovascular disease) risk, even in ApoE4 carriers (i.e., in highly susceptible individuals)”. This study was on the heels of the US Dietary Guidelines which stated “The 2015 DGAC will not bring forward this recommendation because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol, consistent with the conclusions of the AHA/ACC report. Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for over consumption.”
First things first about eggs is knowing the lingo. Here is a list of definitions from the USDA you need to know about the labeling of egg cartons:
Natural – A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product.
Free range – Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.
No hormones – Hormones are not allowed in raising hogs or poultry. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones”.
No antibiotics – The term “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for meat or poultry products if sufficient documentation is provided by the producer to the Agency demonstrating that the animals were raised without antibiotics
Grade – Eggs are given grades (AA, A, or B) based on interior quality factors like defects and freshness, and exterior factors reflecting shell attributes. Grade A eggs have thick whites (Grade AA whites are slightly thicker) which do not spread easily, making them a preferred choice for frying. Meanwhile, Grade B eggs usually have thinner egg whites, making them more ideal for cake mixes and omelets.
Size – Eggs vary in size (Extra Large, Large, and Medium are the most common sizes in stores) based on their weight. The size markings on egg cartons tell the minimum net weight for a dozen eggs. If you are looking for more protein, you should choose a larger sized egg.
Raising Claims – Many are concerned with the way egg-laying hens are raised. Here’s a quick definition for some popular claims. Eggs labeled “cage-free” or “from free roaming hens” are laid by hens that are allowed to roam in a room or open area, which is typically a barn or poultry house. “Free-range” or “pasture-fed” eggs are produced by hens raised outdoors or with access to outdoors. In addition to the feed provided, these hens may also eat wild plants and insects.
Organic – Eggs marked with the USDA’s National Organic Program label come from cage free hens that are free to roam in their houses and have access to the outdoors. The hens are fed an organic diet of feed produced without conventional pesticides or fertilizers.
Secondly appreciate that eggs are packed full of healthy nutrients and are pretty low on the calories. Therefore, pound for pound, eggs are potent nutritional powerhouses and should be at the top of anyone’s super food list.
Egg nutritional facts you need to know:
– whole eggs contain riboflavin, niacin, B6, B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid, thiamin, choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, betaine, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin D (eggs are one of the few natural food sources for D),
– 1 large egg has about 71 calories, 211mg cholesterol, 5g total fat, 0g total carbohydrate
– depending on the size a large egg contains about 6 grams of high quality protein full of the essential amino acids
A few years back health organizations and governments from around the globe started advising against eating eggs, particularly the egg yolk, as well as other high fat foods like avocados and coconut oil, due to their higher cholesterol and fat levels. The concern was that this higher cholesterol food would make them dangerous to our overall health. However, just as we discussed in this brief review of current data, we find this is not true, and in fact quite the opposite. There actually has been multiple studies and reviews that have shown people with too low cholesterol are at a higher risk of mortality.
Bottom line is eggs are super nutritious, cheap, easy to cook, travel easily when hard boiled, and can be a great way to add nutrients to your diet. Eggs, with their vitamin D, are good for your bones and immune system, while the HDL cholesterol is helpful to build hormones like estrogen and testosterone. The antioxidants in eggs are great nutrients for your eyes and brain. When purchasing eggs stick to organic omega 3 eggs, the ones with the dark orange-yellow yokes. Eggs from hens who are allowed to roam around and eat bugs etc, have been studied and shown to be higher in nutritional value especially omega 3 fatty acids. Eggs, like many foods, are best cooked at low temps to help maintain their healthy nutrients and fats. The one caveat is that eggs are also one of the foods many people are allergic to. In practice the top foods people are likely to be allergic to are soy, corn, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk and dairy, shellfish, and fish.
Brescianini S, Maggi S, Farchi G, Mariotti S, Di Carlo A, Baldereschi M, Inzitari D; ILSA Group. Low total cholesterol and increased risk of dying: are low levels clinical warning signs in the elderly? Results from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Jul;51(7):991-6.
Schupf N, Costa R, Luchsinger J, Tang MX, Lee JH, Mayeux R. Relationship between plasma lipids and all-cause mortality in nondemented elderly. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Feb;53(2):219-26.