Food: Eggs are still nature’s treasure
Free Press Columnist
“A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid…”
“Eggses!” he hissed. “Eggses it is!”
(a riddle between Bilbo Baggins and Gollum in The Hobbit)
Eggs have a long history in human nutrition and legend. Gollum knew of their value from his once-hobbit days of thieving them and sucking them on the riverbank. Darwin taught that chickens originated from the southeastern Asian red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus), although recent genetic research out of Uppsala University suggests a grey jungle fowl is also in the mix.
Whichever insect munching, tree dwelling ancestors were involved, except for those allergic, the domesticated modern chicken provides for many the perfect prize. Rich in protein, choline (a B vitamin), omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, D, and detoxification-supporting sulfur compounds — weight-lifters and pregnant mothers know their value.
But what about all those concerns we hear regarding the evils of cholesterol and heart disease? Many worries about eggs have been scrutinized and debunked, bringing us today to what we know about the innocent egg.
Cholesterol is an essential precursor to steroids, Vitamin D and digestion-aiding compounds. It’s so important, it’s found in every cell membrane in the body. Cholesterol is also known to deposit in blood vessels in the artery-hardening heart disease process known as atherosclerosis. This is where the confusion lies. A Harvard Health Publications from July 2006 summarizes it well:
“Myth: All that cholesterol (from eggs) goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries. Not so. For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood.
Myth: Eating eggs is bad for your heart. The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease — not on cholesterol levels or other intermediaries — found no connection between the two.”
But salmonella is dangerous, you say. Here in lies the story of how we care for animals and not the inherent danger of the animals themselves. Just like feedlot cattle, pigs, farm-raised salmon and humans, too many organisms in a confined and unhygienic space result in higher incidences of infectious disease. This, by the way, in nature serves to limit overpopulation. In contrast, there has not been any demonstrated association between salmonella infection and organic, pasture-fed hens when their eggs have been appropriately refrigerated and cooked. A friend raised in Minnesota also noted that the natural mucous coating on fresh eggs (washed off in conventional preparation) also keeps them fresh at room temperature for up to two weeks.
Unfortunately, sometimes free-range chickens may only mean that the door to their coop is kept open for a few hours a day. The chickens may still be packed in like sardines and may never even venture outside. Ideally, you know someone who owns the chickens, knows what they feed them and where they roam.
How else can you tell you’re getting a “good egg?” Well, how do they look in the pan? The best eggs I’ve ever seen are like those I get locally from a fellow named Farmer Ben. When I crack them in the pan, the yolks are a vibrant, deep yellow color and the whites stand up stiff without running all over the pan. They taste like hours worth of energy. It’s too bad the ever-tasty Cadbury’s Creme Eggs aren’t filled with the same nutrient-rich goodness.
Christopher Lepisto, a GJ Free Press columnist, graduated as a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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