Dear eggs, I owe you the biggest apology for the years of questioning your virtue and beauty. You see, my culture taught me some things about you that eventually were proven to be all wrong. They told me that your cholesterol and fat were bad for me, that you would give me a heart attack or stroke, and that I should never eat you. I missed you and thought of you often (and even snuck you in a few times), but I snubbed you wrongly and for that I am sorry.
I am so happy, dear eggs, that you have taken me back! And to learn and know that not only are you delicious but you are packed with nourishing fats and nutrients. And we now know that fat isn’t bad and cholesterol isn’t bad. It’s all much more nuanced than that. (Read more in Healing Foods: My Favorite Healthy Fats http://karynshanksmd.com/2016/08/26/healing-foods-my-favorite-healthy-fats/).
Shame on us for trying to over-simplify the fat discussion and for maligning and misunderstanding the glorious egg! For I have learned that fresh, organic, pasture-raised eggs completely rock my world and support my health in important ways.
Yes, healthy fats are good, and eggs are good. Yes, they are good for me and for all of us. They give me beautiful flexible cell membranes that vibrate to the flow of my life and support my energy and all of the workings of my cells. They help me have a robust stress response to take on life’s challenges, and keep my hormones balanced (whew!). They provide me with the best protein on the planet–a perfect protein with all of the amino acids I need, including the all-important branched-chain amino acids–to support my structure, function, and healing. They have all of the B vitamins and a rich supply of minerals.
Furthermore, since many of us aren’t convinced without science, recent studies show no link between the ingestion of eggs and risk for heart disease, as we once thought there was. Eggs do not raise our blood levels of cholesterol, in spite of their cholesterol content. The body in it’s wisdom tightly regulates our all-important cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a vital nutrient that goes into the synthesis of membranes and hormones, including cortisol, our major stress and energy hormone. To maintain optimal levels when we ingest cholesterol in our diets, the liver downshifts its own production. In fact, I’ve seen people’s blood cholesterol levels actually go down when their dietary intake goes up, due to liver compensation. Just like eating fat doesn’t make us fat, eating cholesterol doesn’t raise our blood levels of cholesterol (or give us heart disease).
The collective minds of our healthcare institutions change slowly and frequently don’t keep pace with the emerging science. As such, the American Heart Association continues to warn people with elevations of blood cholesterol to avoid eating high cholesterol foods. You can safely ignore that advice.
How to Choose Healthy Eggs
- They must be fresh. The expiration date on the carton is based on the packing date, not the day the eggs were actually laid by the chickens. Vet your egg sources. Ask your grocer where they get their eggs and question them about the freshness. Better yet, buy them from a local farmer, as I do, and guarantee their freshness. (Thank you, Susan Kasal-Young from Lucky Star Farm in Iowa City!).
- Buy only organic, pasture-raised eggs. Again, scrutinize your sources. The labeling regulations are flimsy. The label of pasture-raised doesn’t necessarily mean the chickens spend all of their time in the pasture. They may, in fact, have very limited access to the pasture.
- Use local farms to insure freshness and integrity of the farming practices.
Nutritional Attributes of Organic, Pasture-Raised Eggs
- High omega-3-fatty acid content in the yolk.
- Robust source of vitamin E.
- Full spectrum B complex throughout the egg.
- High in mineral content.
- Protein content has high biological value rating by WHO and is used as a reference standard for all other proteins. They contain the full complement of essential amino acids, including branched-chain and sulfur-containing amino acids.
- Many of the nutrients, including the protein, are distributed throughout the egg, so eat the whole egg, unless your recipe calls for just the yolk or the whites.
Who Should Avoid Eating Eggs
Eggs are a common food allergen and source of food intolerance. In susceptible individuals eggs can promote inflammation through immune responsiveness and gut dysfunction, a common physiological component of autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. In many such folks, a period of egg elimination, along with a comprehensive gut-immune restoration program (see my Gut-Immune Restoration Intensive Nutrition–GRIN–Food Plan) will reverse the problem, possibly correcting the egg intolerance.
My Special Deviled Egg Recipe
First, get several strips of bacon going in a pan. I take 4-5 strips, cut them up into small bits first, then place them in the pan on medium heat and let them slowly cook and crisp up.
Boil a dozen organic, pasture-raised eggs: Bring large pan of water to a full boil, carefully place eggs in the pan one at a time using a large spoon, wait until the boil returns, then set timer for 6 minutes for medium eggs or 7 minutes for large eggs. Stir them gently for the first 3 minutes so the yolks stabilize in the center of the egg (thanks for the tip, Mom!). When the timer goes off, remove pan from the heat and immediately place under stream of cold water from the faucet. Let them sit for a few moments in the cool water.
Take each egg, gently tap it on a hard surface so the egg cracks all the way around it. Then grab the shell by the membrane just beneath it and carefully pull off. The peel should fall away easily. Place each peeled egg on a towel. Once all are peeled pat them dry. Cut them each in half with a sharp knife. Pick out the yolks–they should come out easily in one piece by lifting them up by the edge with the tip of a sharp knife. Put yolks in a bowl and place the empty egg white halves on a deviled egg plate (if you were lucky enough to inherit one from your grandmother) or on an ordinary plate.
Mash the egg yolks with a fork. Add 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise (I use vegan olive oil mayonnaise for the flavor), 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, 1 teaspoon dill relish, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 3 teaspoons finely chopped red onion, 3-4 Tablespoons of chopped bacon, salt and pepper to taste. Blend well. Add additional mayo should you need more moisture to make a creamy texture. Fill each egg white half with the mixture so that it forms a nice mound. Sprinkle smoked paprika on top of each one. Eat immediately as they are the yummiest when warm. They will also refrigerate well for several days.
World’s Healthiest Foods–Egg Page http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=92
KARYN SHANKS MD
Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the science of Functional Medicine, body-mind principles, and wisdom gleaned from the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-five-year career. Her work honors each individual and the power of their stories, their inner wisdom, and innate healing potential. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves. She is the author of Liftoff, a manual of energy recovery and healing through essential self-care practices.