Researchers have been arguing over the health benefits and risks of eating eggs for decades. It seems that nearly ever other year someone is yelling “Eggs are bad for you!” But then the next year, you hear “Eat more eggs!” So, which is it? It sounds like we need some straight answers around here, so I’m going to lay out the facts for you.
Eggs, specifically the yolks, are high in cholesterol. However, there isn’t just one kind of cholesterol. There is LDL, which is considered the “bad” cholesterol and HDL, which is considered as “good” cholesterol. Eggs from hens raised in CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) do not have the important ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. Eggs from pastured poultry have shown to increase HDL and improve its composition, leading to better heart-health overall. These eggs also have half as much cholesterol anyway!
But eggs from pastured poultry have a multitude of additional benefits! Hens that are able to forage for fresh greens, insects, and wild seeds have also been found to have a ton more vitamins and minerals. These eggs have more Vitamin A, E, K, and B’s. Additionally, since the hens are out in the sun, their eggs also have up to four times the amount of vitamin D. This is hugely important in a society where it seems nearly everyone is lacking in vitamin D.
The amount of additional minerals that eggs from pastured hens may have can vary since their diet is constantly changing based upon what natural foods are available, but the difference is still significant. Eggs contain manganese, magnesium, selenium, biotin, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, choline, and carotenoids. All of these are necessary for overall health and good body function. Eggs manage to cover a lot of ground when it comes to providing the nutrients our bodies need to function.
Here’s the rub though: Many of these nutrients are contained predominantly or entirely in the yolk. Vitamins A, D, E, and K, for instance, are only stored in the yolk. If you want the full health benefits of eggs, you can’t just skip the yolk out of fear of cholesterol. All of those wonderful nutrients that power the body and improve coronary function can’t just be ignored!
So there’s the straight answer. Eggs from pasture-raised hens ARE good for you. Researchers from Penn State have determined that the cholesterol in eggs from pastured poultry has a positive effect on heart health. Plus, with all those other vitamins and minerals and the slew of other micronutrients, eggs can be included as part of your daily diet, knowing that they are doing the body good.