Are Eggs Good For You or is Eating Eggs bad for you? In this post we reveal the nutritional benefits of eggs, dispel the egg cholesterol myth, give label hacks for what to look for when buying eggs at the grocery store, and share our seven favorite, healthy ways to get more eggs into your diet.
This post is sponsored by Happy Egg. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Did you know that I'm an egg fanatic?
My philosophy is that almost anything and everything is better with eggs. #putaneggonit
I love making eggs for breakfast, brunch, after a workout or yoga, snacks, and sometimes for dinner… so yeah, pretty much any time of the day. Even my 7-month-old is enjoying his first taste of eggs, smashing scrambled eggs all over his face in an attempt to get a few nibbles into his mouth. Like mother, like son!
Not only are eggs simply delicious, they're incredibly fast to make, are such a healthy source of protein (with a complete amino acid profile to boot), and actually one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein available when you look at the cost per serving compared to other animal proteins like chicken, beef, pork, and seafood.
But are eggs good for you? There's been a lot of egg villainizing over the last couple of decades when low-fat diets became trendy, and some people still say eggs are bad for cholesterol levels. So what's the deal? And what do you look for on the label when buying eggs at the store to ensure you're getting the best, most sustainable, humane and healthiest kind?
Read on, my friends!
ARE EGGS GOOD FOR YOU?
We talk a ton here at Root and Revel about why healthy fats (like avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut, olive oil, and organic and grass-fed meats) are not only good for you but are absolutely critical for a balanced, healthy diet–and eggs are no different.
Though eggs have sometimes gotten a bad rep due to their high saturated fat content, it turns out those claims are undeserved. The saturated fat and cholesterol in eggs actually help to regulate the two different types of cholesterol in your body, HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).
The fact is, even though saturated fat may raise cholesterol, your lipid profile (a.k.a. the word for the different kinds of cholesterol and other fats in your blood) may actually improve when you eat more saturated fat, especially when you cut the amount of carbohydrates you consume. On top of that, LDL has been grossly exaggerated as a risk factor for heart disease. (source)
According to Dr. Axe, eggs actually lower your risk of heart disease, improve eye health, assist in liver function and brain development, support weight loss, keeps your skin healthy, and may help prevent metabolic syndrome (a condition that increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.) (source)
In fact, a new study analyzed people with Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes who ate a dozen eggs a week for a year. A series of tests showed no negative results whatsoever. Interestingly, the study concluded that the 128 individuals in the study lost weight even on a high-egg diet and continued to lose when the study came to a close. (source)
In addition to their healthy fats and high protein, eggs also contain nutrients like omega-3s, vitamin B2, D, B6, B12, zinc, iron, and copper.
Alright, so now that we know we don't have to be scared about eggs harming our cholesterol and know that they're actually great for our health, let's talk about what kind of eggs to buy–because seriously, buying eggs has become WAY too complicated, am I right?!
EGG LABELS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Trying to buy a dozen eggs at the grocery store can be extraordinarily confusing… you know what I'm talkin' about! You’ve got the organic cage-free eggs, the natural free-range eggs, the non-GMO pasture-raised eggs… what on earth does it all mean and how do you even know what to look for?
First, let's talk about conventional eggs (meaning the majority of eggs on the market): sadly, nearly all laying hens in the U.S. are raised indoors in cages, with no access to the outdoors. These hens spend their entire lives indoors in overcrowded wire cages without even enough space to stretch their wings.
In fact, the vast majority–90%–of laying hens are confined in small cages for their entire lives, essentially just being used as egg-laying machines for profits. Unless the packaging says otherwise, you are most likely buying eggs from caged hens.
I don't know about you, but I for one do NOT want to support companies that treat animals in such a cruel way, nor do I want to consume eggs that come from such inhumane conditions.
That's where free-range, pasture-raised and organic eggs come into play. What do these words mean?
- Cage-free: These hens do not live inside wire cages, but they never go outside. Cage-free permits just 1.5 square feet of space per bird and always inside the barn. There is little ability to engage in natural behaviors.
- Free-range: These eggs come from hens raised outside, rather than in battery cages or solely the barn. Standard free-range requires 1.8 square feet per bird. Happy Egg's Free-est of the Free Range™ provides their birds with over 10x the space than standard free range. Their birds get over 8 acres of outdoor pasture to play on each day.
- These eggs have extra health benefits, too–they actually have double the amount of omega-3s than cage-raised eggs! Omega-3 fatty acids, consumed as part of a healthy diet, lower blood triglycerides (meaning you have a smaller risk of developing heart disease) and help regulate and lower cholesterol. (source)
- Pasture-raised: While the FDA oversees labeling, there is no common standard or verification, so this label is ripe for greenwashing. Thus, it’s important to do your own research and look at different company’s standards for their hens and what third-party verifications they have.
- Organic: USDA Certified Organic farms must be herbicide- and pesticide-free for at least a three-year period. The spirit of organic standards is that chickens need to be able to go outside to scratch in the dirt and do normal chicken stuff. Some large organic operations skirt the issue by providing screened-in porches, but most legitimate organic egg farmers do provide real access to the outdoors.
Plus–have you ever tasted a true organic free-range or pasture-raised egg? It tastes exponentially better and more flavorful than conventional eggs! You can also usually tell by their color–these eggs have a much richer, darker yolk than conventional eggs.
- Their farms each have over 8 acres of pasture for hens to enjoy outdoors every day. Because Free-est of the Free Range™ is about more than just space, after laying their morning eggs, the hens venture outside to forage, roam, perch, dust bathe and stretch their wings. Happy Egg barns are lined with 6-foot openings called “pop holes,” which make it easy for the hens to come and go.
- The hens are encouraged outside every day, starting with farmers training hens to love the outdoors. Farmers will play with hens outside when they're young, and as they grow they encourage birds outside to explore the range. Happy Egg farms provide access to plenty of dust and sand where the hens can preen and clean themselves.
- Certified Humane standards for free-range require only 1.8 square feet per bird–much less than Happy Egg’s standards, which are certified by American Humane. To qualify, the Happy Egg Co. had to meet the program’s rigorous standards, which uniquely includes providing each hen with access to 21.8 square feet of outdoor space, available shelter, and nearly 200 more science and welfare-based standards.
- Happy Egg also goes and above with additional standards like regulating flock sizes (to make sure that flocks stay manageable for small family farms and that the birds get the care and attention they deserve) and offering access to an enclosed outdoor watering system (this is so that hens can stay out longer in the pasture and remain hydrated; the watering system is enclosed so that it does not attract predators or other wild animals).
Next time you're buying eggs, look for Happy Egg’s staple yellow carton with the green label for organic. Check out their store locator to find Happy Eggs near you!
7 WAYS TO INCORPORATE EGGS IN YOUR DIET
Here are some of my favorite ways I add organic eggs into my everyday life, so I can stay nourished with nutrient-dense foods even at the busiest of times:
Veggie scrambles and omelets: While you may not win any creativity points here, omelets and scrambled eggs are always in the top of my mind for quick, healthy, filling meals. You can literally cook 'em in 10 minutes, add different mix-ins to keep it interesting, and satisfy most diets (vegetarian, paleo, keto, low-carb, gluten-free, dairy-free, Whole30, etc.).
Boiled eggs or Deviled Eggs: I love making soft- or hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot (perfect every time), and then having them around all week to munch on as a snack or post-workout. If you're feeling extra fancy, going to extra step to make deviled eggs always guarantees happiness later on come snack time.
Shakshuka (Eggs in Tomato Sauce): One of my favorite breakfast or brunch recipes, this easy and healthy Israeli-inspired meal is a delicious vegetarian and paleo-friendly recipe spiked with green Swiss Chard Pesto and flavorful spices, like harissa, topped with feta, olives, and capers.
Paleo Chocolate Pumpkin Pancakes: Eggs are a key ingredient in a lot of recipes, like these paleo, low-carb pancakes!
Topping bowls and salads with poached or fried eggs: This is one of my personal favorites. I love adding runny eggs on top of savory oatmeal, grain bowls, Turkish breakfast bowls, asian soups, and–yep–even salads! Don't knock it 'til you try it… the warm yolk mixes in delightfully with the crisp greens!
Egg ‘muffins' or cups, frittatas, or crustless quiche: Literally just add some sauteed veggies to muffin cups (I love these BPA-silicone muffin molds) or a baking dish with some whisked eggs and maybe a sprinkle of organic cheese, bake and you're ready to go!
Healthy + Easy Eggnog (Sugar-Free): Who says eggnog has to be filled with sugar or only around for the holidays? This eggnog recipe is nutrient-rich, low carb, and free of guilt as there is ZERO sugar! Did I mention that it's also oh-so-delicious?! You could even use it as a coffee creamer. 😉
What are your favorite ways to enjoy eggs? Let us know in the comments below!