Health Benefits and Dangers of Eating Raw Eggs
Because of the high bioavailability of protein from eggs, lots of bodybuilders try eating raw eggs to get more protein into their diets. This article will discuss whether it is necessary to eat eggs raw, and the health benefits and potential hazards of eating raw eggs.
Before I get into the possible health benefits and dangers of eating raw eggs, lets discuss eggs in general.
Are Eggs Healthy?
A lot of people believe that eating eggs (cooked or raw) is bad for you because of the cholesterol found in the yolk. However, research has shown that the cholesterol from eggs really doesn't raise your blood cholesterol. Cholesterol is produced in your liver and most people with high cholesterol are producing too much. I know that I often have eggs the night before I go in to have my cholesterol checked and it is always within the very good to normal range.
Because of the fear of raising one's cholesterol, many people only eat the white part of the egg.
If you throw out the yolks and eat only the whites, you are missing out on the most important part of the egg. The yolk contain lots of beneficial substances, such as choline, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and several other fatty acids. Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin (important for vision), vitamins A and D, and several minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, and potassium. And of course about 215 mg cholesterol. One egg (white plus yolk) provides 6 grams of protein.
Also, if you are going to eat eggs, please obtain them from a source that doesn't treat their chickens inhumanely. Eat only free-range organic eggs whenever possible. The last thing you want to do for your health is to eat eggs that are from hens pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. These eggs are not going to be healthy for you and it is cruel to keep chickens in conditions where they need antibiotics to survive. When you buy regular eggs from the grocery store you are buying eggs from hens that most likely had their beaks burned off, were pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, and were kept in cramped cages full of feces. They are given antibiotics because the conditions they live in are so poor they would get sick without them.
This is bad for the chickens and for the person eating the eggs from these birds.
If you can't find free-range eggs, or at least organic eggs, then please don't eat eggs. Keep in mind that the chickens laying organic eggs may not be treated well either, but they are most likely better treated than hens laying the cheaper, regular grocery store eggs.
Raw Eggs vs Cooked Eggs
Many bodybuilders focus mainly on egg whites because that is where most of the protein is found. And many bodybuilders eat their eggs raw in the belief that the protein is more bioavailable since it isn't denatured through cooking.
So, are raw eggs better for you than cooked eggs?
Most research has shown that the protein from cooked eggs is more bioavailable than from raw eggs. After eating raw eggs, as much as 50% of the protein passes though the intestine unchanged.
So, if you are eating raw eggs for the protein content, then I'd say, switch to cooked eggs.
There is some evidence that raw egg protein is different than cooked protein because it isn't denatured. And of course denatured protein probably isn't as healthy.
Raw eggs contain more antioxidants than cooked eggs because heat destroys about half of them. Researchers from the University of Alberta from Jianping Wu's lab found that two raw egg yolks contain more antioxidants than an apple.
Avidin and Decreased Biotin
Avidin is a substance found in egg whites that binds up biotin. Cooking destroys avidin so avidin is not present in cooked eggs. Egg yolks contain biotin and so as long as you are eating the entire egg (white plus yolk) it doesn't matter if you eat them raw or cooked as far as biotin is concerned.
Cooked eggs are safer overall. You don't have to worry as much about salmonella as with raw eggs. In fact, salmonella is really the only thing people typically worry about from raw eggs.
However, I think a more serious threat from raw eggs could be from viruses present in the eggs, and not from bacteria, such as salmonella. People rarely die from salmonella, but viruses could potentially be more serious. The potential viruses in eggs worries me much more than the risk of salmonella.
When people think of bird viruses the first thing they think of is bird flu. However, there are other potential viruses present in eggs. Heat destroys many viruses and so cooking your eggs is probably safest. However, unless you are cooking your eggs thoroughly by cooking both the white and the yolk until they are both solid then it probably doesn't make much difference if you eat your eggs completely raw or cooked as far as potential viruses are concerned. There could still be viruses present in the yolk if it is left runny and not cooked even if you cook the white part.
Watch the You Tube video that describes research about viruses found in eggs.
Although it isn't clear whether or not these viruses affect humans, it does worry me some, however, I still eat two raw eggs for breakfast every morning (blended up into a protein shake).
In fact, I had two raw eggs for breakfast just this morning. I blended them up into my usual protein powder mixed with flaxseeds, wheat germ, and a banana. I could detect the taste of the raw eggs, but it wasn't terrible. Usually I just have one raw egg blended up into my protein shake. With just one raw egg I can hardly taste the it at all.
The benefits to eating raw eggs is that the protein isn't denatured and that they contain more antioxidants. In addition, it can't be argued that raw eggs are in a more natural state than cooked eggs. You also don't have to worry about cooking them in oil or anything like that.
The drawbacks to eating your eggs raw is that they don't taste as good, and they are not as safe to eat. The protein bioavailability of eggs are better if you cook them, and they certainly taste better.
However you eat your eggs, just be sure to also eat the yolk, don't fry them in oil, and don't load them up with salt.