Saturday, January 21, 2012

Eggs are Healthy Food

Eggs are Healthy Food      1/7/12

We bought nine young hens and a rooster from a local farmer a few days ago.  We let them out of the coop today, after two days inside to make sure they knew it was home.  We enjoyed watching them run around the yard, scratching in the dirt, eating weeds and bugs.  We found the first egg in one of the nest boxes, and I had it for breakfast, along with a store-bought egg.  The yolk of our egg was a much deeper red than the other, and really delicious.  From now on, we’ll have an unlimited free supply of organic free-range eggs, and can really “live off the fat of the land”.

Of course, the nutrient content of organic free range eggs is far superior to conventional eggs.  But even supermarket eggs are a good source of the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan, needed by the heart and brain, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are yellow-pigmented carotenoids very beneficial to the eyes. Cooking reduces these antioxidants by about half. 

Eggs are one of the most important foods to spend a little extra on and always buy organic.  Free range eggs contain more vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta carotene, because the chickens are out there, like my chickens, eating highly nutritious weeds and insects.  One of the weeds chickens love is purslane, which increases the omega-3 content of their egg yolks. (Avoid eggs labeled as “omega-3 eggs”, as they come from chickens fed poor-quality sources of omega-3 fats that are already oxidized.)

Yolks are also loaded with bioflavonoids, brain fats like phosphatidyl choline, and sulfur, and can be eaten raw or added to breakfast shakes.  The best way to cook eggs is to soft boil or poach them, leaving the yolks mostly raw.  The worst way is scrambling, as it allows the cholesterol in the yolk to oxidize, which is what makes it harmful.  Conventionally-raised eggs should never be eaten raw, as they are likely to be contaminated with salmonella, not to mention pesticide residues.

The idea that eggs are unhealthy and promote heart disease is a complete myth. It's true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, but this is not really a bad thing. The cholesterol in egg yolks has little relationship to blood cholesterol levels.  Research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that even eating eggs every day did not raise cholesterol levels. In most people there is a feedback mechanism that decreases the body’s production of cholesterol when more is consumed. 

Cholesterol has important functions in the body, such as controlling the fluidity of cell membranes.  It is also the starting material for making vitamin D (cholecalciferol), the adrenal hormones aldosterone (which controls salt balance) and cortisone, for stress adaptation, as well as the male and female sex hormones.  Cholesterol can function as an antioxidant when there is an insufficient quantity of other antioxidants like vitamins C, E, B3, and carotenes and the minerals zinc, sulfur and selenium supplied by the diet.  Getting enough of these antioxidants, especially C and B3 (niacin) can lower a high cholesterol level.  The fact that niacin lowers cholesterol was discovered decades ago by Dr Abram Hoffer, who also pioneered the orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia with niacin.

Cholesterol deposition in arteries is a repair mechanism for artery walls damaged by free radicals, due to lack of antioxidants, especially vitamin C, according to Linus Pauling and Dr Matthias Rath.  Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen and mucopolysaccharides, the “glue”  that holds cells together. Without it, arteries weaken and bleed into tissue spaces (scurvy). Cholesterol is deposited to prevent this.

Many people actually have cholesterol levels that are too low, either naturally or due to cholesterol-lowering drugs, which may cause depression.

Even vegetarians who are opposed to killing animals can eat eggs in good conscience.  As long as they are not “fertile eggs”, (for which you pay extra), there is no living embryo in the egg. The yolk and white are only a food supply for a potential chick, which will never develop without a rooster to fertilize the egg.  But hens continue to lay eggs anyway.

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