So, what makes egg yolks so special?
- Fat soluble vitamins are highly concentrated in egg yolks. This is where all the valuable vitamin A, D, E and K are stored. These are the vitamins that were revered in cultures studied by Weston A. Price.
- The yolk is also where you’re going to find plenty of B vitamins (like the very crucial B6 and B12, which many people are short on), plus minerals like calcium and zinc.
- Egg yolks are rich in cholesterol. And that’s a good thing! Cholesterol is imperative for hormone and neurotransmitter production (i.e. it keeps you feeling good), and is also crucial for the production of vitamin D. Read more about cholesterol here and here. Still not convinced? Check out this book about cholesterol's health benefits.
- Yolks contain essential fatty acids like omega-3 DHA. Egg yolks, especially those from pastured chickens, have an excellent omega 3:6 ratio, too. There’s virtually no fat in the white, however.
- Egg yolks are also a great source of lecithin, which is great for your liver, your brain and your skin. Throw out your soy lecithin (it's basically industrial waste) and get your lecithin from eggs!
Why eat raw egg yolks?
- Heat alters the nutrients in eggs and destroys the enzymes that help us assimilate them. Cooked eggs are still a decent source of nutrition, but eating raw egg yolks takes the nutrient-density to a whole new level. They are highly digestible and full of readily-available nutrients.
- Raw egg yolks are super gentle on the digestive system. In fact, raw egg yolks are one of the first foods available on the GAPS diet intro, which is for people who have severe health problems originating in the gut.
- In addition, eating raw egg yolks is much less likely to trigger an allergic reaction, so even sensitive individuals may be able to tolerate them.
Eating raw eggs? Yuck!
Well, I didn’t say you have to swallow them whole. Despite what some sources say, I find it hard to believe that beating an egg yolk harms the nutrients inside (wouldn't chewing also be detrimental?). I usually blend mine into smoothies; it actually gives them a milkshake texture. You can just blend some raw milk or kefir with a few egg yolks and natural sweetener like raw honey - it’s kind of like easy ice cream! Talk about satisfying a sweet tooth with something healthy. For my kids (who weirdly don’t like smoothies) I stir a yolk up with some organic peanut butter and raw honey. They don’t know the difference.
Why not raw egg whites?
There are differing opinions on this, but Nourishing Traditions is fairly adamant that raw egg whites aren’t something to eat every day because they contain anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors, and may cause digestive issues. These properties are neutralized by cooking.
UPDATE 8/30/2010: I've since disregarded my fear of raw egg whites. The practice never fully "clicked" with me, and after some research I've determined that for most people eating a nutrient-dense diet and with a healthy digestive system, raw egg whites are probably not a big issue. Mercola explains some more on this here. It's a personal decision, but it's always good to hear both sides of an issue before deciding.
Is eating raw eggs safe?
Here’s my take on this:
- According to Dr. Mercola’s web site, only 1 in 30,000 eggs even has a salmonella problem. If I eat three raw eggs a day, statistics say it would take more than 27 years before I’d actually run across one with salmonella. Of course, I know life isn't about statistics, but you get the point.
- Raw egg yolks from a quality source are even less likely to contain salmonella. Healthy, pastured chickens with lots of sun exposure aren’t going have much salmonella to pass on to their eggs.
- A healthy body is equipped to fight bacteria on its own. We encounter bad bacteria all the time. If we take good care of our bodies they can put up a good fight against the bad stuff. If you have a weak or compromised immune system, though, you might want to be more careful. (Taking probiotics helps.)
- Fresh eggs are less likely to harbor a lot of salmonella. To determine if an egg is fresh, bring it to room temperature first. Check for cracks: there should be none. Roll the egg on a flat surface: it should wobble. Check the white and yolk: both should be firm and not easily broken. If you think it’s not fresh, don’t eat it.
Ready to try raw egg yolks in a smoothie? Try out one of my recipes here or here.