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Eggs are a divisive food. There's quite a bit of misinformation and a lot of strong opinions floating around on whether or not you should eat eggs and whether or not you should eat the yolk.
I highly encourage you to eat eggs and I especially encourage consumption of the yolk. Let's discuss why egg yolks are so healthy.
Are eggs good for you?
Yes, they absolutely are. They contain highly digestible protein, and the yolks are very nutrient-rich.
They contain a high concentration of fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids.
An egg yolk is something of a natural multi-vitamin, so please, please, don't throw them out in favor of eating just the whites! The whites contain comparatively less nutritional value.
What about cholesterol?
I know what you're thinking. "Aren't egg yolks high in cholesterol?" Yes. They do contain cholesterol.
However, most of the cholesterol in your body is made by you; the cholesterol you take in with food is not the same and does not necessarily raise your cholesterol levels.
There are foods that can cause your cholesterol levels to go up, but eggs aren't one of them. In fact, they're the opposite. Egg yolks contain lecithin, which actually helps to control and lower cholesterol.
If you're having trouble believing that, I've eaten about four eggs per day for around 20 years. That's approximately 29,000 eggs. And my cholesterol levels? They're pretty good! If eggs were bad for your cholesterol, I, of all people would know.
Should I buy hormone-free, cage-free eggs?
If you see eggs in a regular grocery store and they're labelled 'hormone-free', they're really no different from any other eggs. Giving chickens hormones has been illegal since 1949, so all the eggs in the grocery store should be hormone-free. Adding that label to the package is no more than a gimmick.
'Cage-free' is another label you often see on eggs. It sounds humane in theory, but in practice, cage-free doesn't actually mean happy, healthy animals.
Cage-free is nothing more than a legal designation that can be applied if the producer meets basic, minimum requirements.
How should I buy my eggs?
If you really want to buy eggs produced in a humane fashion, laid by healthy animals, you need to get your eggs from a small farmer or a high-end producer. Ideally, you should buy your eggs directly from the farmer who raises the hens.
Plenty of farmers bring fresh eggs to farm stands and farmers' markets, if you can't necessarily get right to the farm. You may also be able to find good quality eggs at high-end retailers, like Whole Foods.
On another note, many egg-laying hens are given fish oil, and I find that this imparts a fishy flavor to the eggs. If you can, look instead for hens that are given flax oil; you'll still get your omega-3 fatty acids, but the eggs won't taste like fish.
I hope this helps to shed some light on some of the myths I often hear about eggs. In short, yes, eat eggs. Eat the yolks. Don't bother with supermarket eggs that claim to be hormone and cage-free. Go right to the farmer for the best quality product.
Understand the benefits of eggs and see more Nutrition advice from Dr. Berg Video Blog.