The Truth About Eggs

“Tell me how to say three things / and I always get by — gimme a plate of ham and eggs — / how much? — and — do you love me, kid?” – Carl Sandburg (“Threes”)

First and foremost, eggs do not cause heart disease. In fact, there was never any evidence they did. They don’t even raise your blood cholesterol. Of course, eggs contain cholesterol. The developing embryo needs it to produce sex hormones — and so do you.

Here’s the rest of what you need to know about eating eggs:

  • Eggs may be the only 100% complete food. Egg yolks have all of the required fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), iron, and heart-healthy omega-3 fat. The whites have all the water-soluble B vitamins and — cooked or raw — are the source of the highest-quality protein on the face of the planet, with all the amino acids you need in exactly the ratios you need.
  • Raw eggs are an excellent source of the essential fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which can ease hypertension, depression, problems with brain function, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Unfortunately, DHA (and other nutrients and proteins) collapse in the cooking process.
  • Raw eggs are safe to eat. I do it myself and have been recommending it for 30 years. You absorb a raw egg in as little as 30 minutes, while it takes two to four hours to digest a cooked egg. People are afraid of salmonella poisoning, but I have never seen a case that came from eggs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that only 0.00003% of eggs produced in the United States have salmonella bacteria — a very tiny percentage. Still, I recommend that you eat locally farmed organic eggs and that you wash them well before cracking.
  • I’ve read that eating cooked (though not raw) eggs every day can lead to allergies, while eating them raw won’t. I don’t know of any hard proof that it’s true, but I believe it can be the case for a small minority of people. The symptoms are the same as for other food allergies: stomach pain, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, flushing, itching eyes, nasal congestion. A severe food allergy can advance to whole-body itching and even hives. You can find out if you have an egg allergy by having your doctor check your blood for antibodies to egg protein. Or, on your own, you can see if the symptoms come on within a few hours after you eat eggs and if they are absent when you don’t eat eggs.
  • Adding raw eggs to your diet is very easy. The simplest way is to add a raw egg to a protein shake in the morning. If you are a little hesitant, add a small amount of the egg the first few days. Then, progressively add more as you get more comfortable with it. You can also just drink the egg. This is the quickest way. My father liked to punch a hole in the eggshell and suck it dry. I prefer to crack it into a glass of water, stir, and gulp it down. The texture may be a little daunting at first. Just think of it as an oyster.
  • To avoid any possible problem with raw eggs: (1) Eat only cage-free, hormone-free eggs, (2) don’t eat the egg if the shell is cracked, (3) eat only eggs that roll “wobbly,” (4) do not eat the egg if it smells at all, and (5) eat only eggs that have a gel-like white and a firm, round yolk.

(Ed. Note: Dr. Al Sears is the editor of Health Confidential for Men, a publication devoted to men’s health.)