I often marvel at the brilliantly packaged, deliciously satisfying and nutritionally dense creation of nature with the strangest of names in almost any language (dzou in Armenian, oeuf in French and even egg – try saying that few times fast). In the last few decades, the egg, one of natures most nourishing and original whole foods (no matter which came first) has been the victim of the anti-fat and anti-cholesterol health craze based on poor theory and unjustified conclusions. Researchers are currently de-bunking the myth of the bad egg and we are slowly entering the recovery phase. It’s comeback time.
We have been told for decades that eggs increase cholesterol, which then increases our risk for heart disease. However we are now finding that dietary animal based cholesterol does not directly raise blood cholesterol. The cholesterol in our bloodstream (which is obviously what is measured from a blood test at your doctors office) is in fact made in the liver, and pumped into the blood when the body is in need of it.
Yes, in need of it. Cholesterol is a crucial building block in the body as all of our steroid hormones are made from its fatty backbone along with maintaining the integrity of every single cell wall in your body. Your sex hormones are made from a cholesterol foundation – yes you can have too little cholesterol which translates into potentially low levels of your sex hormones, which in turn lowers the obvious (pun more or less intended), along with a slew of hormonal deficiency symptoms. A lack of cholesterol is potentially detrimental to your libido.
Naturopathically speaking, when we see cholesterol go up, the first question is why – and then why again. As I said, the body is making cholesterol in the liver. The liver will up-regulate cholesterol in order to repair cellular damage in the body. Ah-ha! A potential reason for high cholesterol then is that the body is undergoing some injury somewhere. Atherosclerosis for example – You see the fatty plaques which cause clogged arteries are initiated by a micro injury to the blood vessels. The reasons for this are too many to list here, however smoking is perhaps the most common and lack of tissue protective dietary antioxidants another.
When you toss out the egg yolk 100% of the fat soluble vitamins are lost, thats a large serving of vitamins A, D, E, K and carotenoids. These fat soluble vitamins do more things than you could imagine; boost your immune system, reduce your risk of cancer, keep your bones, teeth and skin healthy, support the thyroid gland, reduce the damaging effects of diabetes, promote healthy growth in children to list a few.
The egg yolk contains 99% of the zinc, 90% of the calcium and 95% of the folate. Astonishing! (zinc is a crucial mineral for sperm count by the way). Finally get this, egg whites are touted as the protein part of the egg, which is true. However, the yolk contains 43% of the total egg protein and balances the amino acid profile of the whole food. Natures whole foods never cease to amaze me. When they are eaten as intended they are super foods, and when dissected in a kitchen as common practice or weight loss technique they can then turn harmful. Egg whites can cause a biotin deficiency – including the yolks will prevent this. No need to reinvent this wheel.
The caveat, yes there is one I’m sorry. The yolk has to be runny – period. Sunny side up, poached, over easy, raw and I’m sure I’ve missed a few. What about omelet’s? I happen to love omelets. A remnant from living in France is that I always have my omelet cooked “baveuse” which loosely translates as animal drool (think slobbery St. Bernard) – a colorful, descriptive term for soft scramble. The omelet is not cooked up till the point where the egg is dry, flakey, rubbery etc.
I’m not promoting an egg binge for the next year to catch up on all of those yolkless omelets you’ve feasted on, but please feel good about giving your body the nourishment it needs by having a couple of eggs for breakfast on a regular basis.
Eat whole foods – don’t forget the yolk!
Dr. Nishant Rao is an outspoken proponent of holistic medicine. He received his medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Oregon and a Bachelors in Herbal Sciences from Bastyr University in Washington.
Dr. Nishant believes strongly in integrative medicine and a collaborative approach to healthcare as the solution to create sustainable wellness.
Having been recently uprooted from the beautiful green mountains of the Pacific Northwestern United States, he is traveling with his wife Dr. Arin Rao, also a naturopathic physician, through South East Asia and the Middle East working to increase the awareness of holistic medicine. He is involved with the next evolution of health 2.0 with partners around the world.
You can read more from Dr. Nishant at http://www.wellwire.com/
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