Eggs got a bad rap throughout the low-fat craze.
Now, research suggests that there are many health benefits of eggs (especially in the yolks!).
I love eggs for two reasons: 1) they’re super nutrient-dense, and 2) they’re incredibly easy to make!
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If you’re thinking like I did a couple of years ago, your first thought just now was probably, “But what about the cholesterol?!” I honestly didn’t even know what cholesterol was until about a year ago, but I was still eating those devilish (not to be confused with deviled!) eggs in moderation. In reality, there are many health benefits of eggs. Before we get to those, let’s consider the source of their prior shame…
The Root of the “Bad” Cholesterol Myth
In the 1960s, when research on heart disease was still shaky at best, sugar industry-funded Harvard scientists published research recommending that people eat mostly low-fat foods. (Yes, you read that correctly. The scientists were funded by the sugar industry. Hmm…) These findings made room for the lipid hypothesis, “a medical theory postulating a link between blood cholesterol levels and occurrence of heart disease.”
As people cut fat and dietary cholesterol out of their diets, they naturally consumed foods higher in carbohydrates.
Now, not all carbohydrates are created equal, and not all carbohydrates are unhealthy (even though many attention-grabbing social media headlines would like you to believe otherwise…). In fact, most fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates. If people had simply increased their consumption of carbs from whole foods, both the uptick in chronic illness and today’s obesity crisis may have been averted.
The big problem was/is this: Food conglomerates seized the opportunity to make a buck (actually, billions of bucks) off of the low-fat trend. They started marketing highly processed foods as “low-fat,” which the average (and likely health-conscious!) consumer interpreted as “healthy.” These processed foods were/are filled with refined carbohydrates and sugars, which we now know couldn’t be worse for our health.
Fortunately, research on heart disease has dramatically improved since the 60s. We now know that the low-fat craze was actually more detrimental than helpful, but we’re still living in its never-ending hangover of processed food. Visit your local grocery store and just try to fill your cart with whole foods your great-great-grandparents would recognize. Good luck! It’s nearly impossible to do.
So, what’s the new and improved verdict on “bad” cholesterol…?
The Truth About Cholesterol
Another deleterious effect of the low-fat fad is our ongoing association of the words “cholesterol” and “bad.” In reality, we couldn’t survive without cholesterol; it’s a main structural component of every single cell in the human body. The whole basis of the low-fat diet was founded on the belief that saturated fat caused high cholesterol and high cholesterol caused heart disease. However, modern research suggests that cholesterol is not the culprit of heart disease; inflammation and plaque buildup are.
Not surprisingly, Big Pharma, similar to the aforementioned food conglomerates, monopolized on the low-fat trend by producing and publicizing cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. In fact, Lipitor, a popular statin, is one of the best-selling prescription drugs of all time. (Again, hmm…)
The tragic truth at the bottom of all of this is that we could and should have been eating delicious, nutritious whole foods like eggs (with the yolks!) for breakfast all of these years instead of that low-fat, sugary, cardboard-tasting, processed crap. Ugh.
Cardiologists like Dr. Bret Scher now confidently prescribe eggs to their patients. Still skeptical? Read Dr. Scher’s blog post titled “TAKE 2 EGGS AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING.” It’s a great one!
The Egg = A Superfood
As outlined in this concise and informative article from Healthline.com, the egg is a perfect food choice for the following reasons:
- They’re packed with all sorts of nutrients, including Lutein and Zeaxanthin (for eye health), Choline (for brain health), Vitamin B12, Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin B5, and Selenium.
- They have the power to improve a person’s cholesterol profile. (Read: “Scientists” really had it wrong in the 60s!)
- They’re a source of high-quality protein.
- They’re filling.
Well said, Healthline! I’d also like to add:
- They’re super easy to make.
- You can make them many different ways to maintain variety.
- In some forms, they’re perfectly portable.
When/How to Eat Eggs
Obviously, eggs are an awesome breakfast food, but I’d like to encourage you to think of them as a viable snack, lunch, and dinner choice, as well!
One of my go-to health hacks is packing a couple of hard-boiled eggs for lunch. I make them every Sunday night so that they’re ready to grab and go when the craziness of the week begins. (In case you’re wondering, I also pack other things with my eggs like tuna, chicken, or salmon salad; chopped up raw veggies; dinner leftovers; roasted veggies; berries; 85%+ cacao dark chocolate; etc.)
If you think you don’t like hard-boiled eggs, it may be because you’ve never had one that is cooked to perfection. I used to hate them, but now that I’ve learned to cook them like a pro I can’t get enough! Here’s what I do:
The PERFECT Lunch Egg = Hard-Boiled
- Fill a saucepan with water; make sure the water will cover the eggs by an inch or so. (Don’t add the eggs yet!)
- Add a teaspoon of salt to the water. (Adding salt will make the eggs easier to peel later on.)
- Bring the water to a rolling boil.
- Drop the eggs into the water…gently.
- Let them sit in the pot, uncovered, for about a minute, or until the water returns to a boil. (If you’re boiling a lot of eggs, you’ll have to wait longer than a minute.)
- Once the water returns to a boil, turn off the stove, move the pot to a cool burner, and cover it. Let the covered pot sit for 14ish minutes.
- Pour out the hot water and add cold water to the pot. Let the eggs sit in the cold water for a bit to cool down.
- ENJOY! The whites should be firm and the centers a bright yellow. If the centers are too light yellow or gray, let them sit for less time in step 5 or 6. (Oh, and a bonus: Because of step 2, they should be super easy to peel once they’ve cooled!)
What’s the best way to eat eggs for dinner? I’m so glad you asked!
The PERFECT Dinner Egg = Cheese (French) Omelette
I enjoy a cheese omelette for dinner because a) it’s super easy, b) it’s delicious, and c) if you haven’t gotten the message already, it’s super healthy! For this recipe, I defer to Bon Appétit: How to Make a Custardy French Omelette
I usually pair my cheese omelette with a side salad because, like eggs, greens are great-tasting and nutritious!
Remember, I also mentioned that eggs can be a wonderful snack food…
The PERFECT Snack Egg = Deviled
Again, you may think you hate deviled eggs because the ones you’ve had were not boiled properly in the first place. I know what you mean! Poorly boiled eggs are disgusting in every form, even when mayo is involved.
You can make deviled eggs using a traditional recipe that usually includes vinegar, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper, and paprika. (I love Primal Kitchen’s mayo because it’s made with avocado oil, gluten-free, and dairy-free!)
OR, you can try a variation that calls for hummus or even Greek yogurt (in lieu of mayo). There are so many options! Just Google “______ deviled eggs” to find the perfect recipe for you.
As with all food, quality matters. When your budget allows, buy pastured eggs!
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Bottom line: Eggs are delicious, nutritious, and easy to make; society villainized them for no good reason! All my best to you as you incorporate the above EGG-cellent recipes into your routine! 🙂
Interested in learning more? Check out these resources…
- “All About Cholesterol: Understanding nutrition’s most controversial molecule” from the Precision Nutrition blog
- Dr. Bret Scher’s, the low carb cardiologist’s, blog
- “The Incredible, Edible Egg Yolk” by Chris Masterjohn, PhD
To optimize every aspect of your health, visit My Favorite Things! There, you’ll find links to healthy packaged foods, toxin-free products, and overall wellness boosters.