As a vegetarian, there are two nutrients that I’m highly conscious of, and those are protein and B12. It’s often hard to get these nutrients on a vegetarian/vegan diet, and so when I find good sources of them, it’s like edible gold. And actually, there is edible gold… that is, the golden, delicious, protein & nutrient packed egg. The majority of the nutrients are actually found in the yolk, that precious nugget the American Heart Association has deemed the dietary devil, which is why I get so upset when people tout the great benefits of egg whites. Egg whites are literally nothing without their creamy counterpart; like R2-D2 and C-3P0, the golden one is necessary to translate the benefits of the other into something humans can use. (Who says you can’t learn anything from Star Wars?)
Eggs are one of nature’s best sources of protein, with 6 grams per egg, and they are one of the few foods that contain the entire spectrum of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. There are 22 amino acids needed to make a complete, bioavailable protein. Animal products contain complete proteins while vegetables and grains have only incomplete proteins, which is why eggs and dairy porducts are so important for any vegetarian (and why veganism is so harmful to your health). However, Mother Earth made eggs with yolks for a reason, so when you only eat the whites, you are missing out on half the total protein content and half the amino acids, leaving only incomplete, unusable proteins. Protein is not only essential to many bodily functions, but it also boosts your metabolism, giving you more energy and helping you stay fuller longer.
These delicious golden jems are also chock-full of a dozen other nutrients, including many B vitamins (including B12), iron, choline (good for brain health), lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants that help prevent macular degeneration), and fat soluble vitamins like A & D. Plus, that’s where most of the flavor is, and who wants to give that up? Especially when trying new eggs, like duck or quail!
Now, I know what most of you are thinking: But the cholesterol! I wish I had Lierre Keith here to explain cholesterol to you, because her book The Vegetarian Myth is truly an amazing resource on the nutritional dangers of vegetarianism, as well as a great dietary myth-buster. But here is a short summary of her explanation of cholesterol:
Cholesterol is, of course, the bulwark that the nutritional vegetarians will stand behind. The Lipid Hypothesis – the theory that ingested fat causes heart disease – is the stone tablet that the Prophets of Nutrition have brought down from the mountain. We have been shown the one, true way: cholesterol is the demon of the age, the dietary Black Plague, a judgment from an angry God, condemning those who stray into the Valley of Animal Products with disease…
Yes, it all began when researchers fed protein and cholesterol to rabbits and their blood cholesterol shot up… Which is about what you’d expect when you take an herbivore designed for cellulose and stuff her full of fat and protein… When these experiments are done on carnivores – cats, dogs, foxes – no damage results.
Remember that 80 percent of the cholesterol in your blood was made by your body. Only 20 percent was put there by your food choices. Your body knows where it wants that cholesterol level… If you eat more cholesterol, it will produce less. A meta analysis of one hundred sixty seven – yes, that’s 167 – cholesterol-feeding experiments found that raising dietary cholesterol had a negligible effect on blood cholesterol, and no link to CHD (coronary heart disease) risk.
She goes on to prove her point with graphs, studies, and more of her endlessly amusing wit. And many others agree with her, including the World Health Organization’s MONICA (MONitor Trends in CArdiovascular Diseases) Project, the largest investigation into diet and cardiovascular disease ever. After surveying 10 million people from 21 countries over 10 years, the study showed absolutely no correlation between cholesterol levels and heart disease. A 2006 study from the University of Connecticut came to similar conclusions; it showed that while eggs do slightly raise cholesterol levels, they tend to increase levels of good cholesterol (high-denstiy lipoproteins, HDLs) and increase the size of bad cholesterol molecules (low-density lipoproteins, LDLs), making it harder for them to enter artery walls and cause damage. Christine Greene, lead researcher of the study, claims that the data indicates “that most people’s bodies handle the cholesterol from eggs in a way that is least likely to harm the heart.”
This is because cholesterol is actually a necessary nutrient; it is present in every cell in your body, for it is responsible for making cell walls waterproof, building hormones, and rebuilding damaged cells. Big Pharma doesn’t tell you this because it wants you to continue to blindly choke down your 3+ cholesterol pills a day. When in fact, all you have to do is make breakfast.