Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cook Those Eggs!

I for one am a HUGE fan of eggs, and all the amazing health benefits associated with them.  They're loaded with vitamins, healthy fats, and most importantly, PROTEIN!  Yes, being a weightlifter I need all the protein I can get for the fewest calories I can find.  My two favorite foods that fit this bill perfectly are fish, and EGGS.  You can get 8 grams of readily absorbed protein from each egg, and the egg itself is only around 74 calories.  The egg white contains a lot of protein by itself, around 6 grams, and there are only about 20 calories worth in every egg.  But hey, if you're only going to eat one to three eggs a day, keep the yoke in.  I won't delve into much detail, but the cholesterol issues so commonly referred to in the same sentence as eggs are drastically overstated.  The yoke has a plethora of health benefits, and the dietary cholesterol it contains should NOT be a deterrent for this tasty yellow center.

But I'm not here just to go off on how eggs are so amazing (which they are), I'm writing this article to drop an interesting little knowledge bomb on all of you.  Eggs have the potential to be one of the most biologically available protein sources in the entire food universe.  What do I mean by this?  Well you see, though you can easily find out how much protein there is in any quantity of any type of food, the body can only absorb a certain percentage of that protein because of the chemical composition of the food itself.  The absorbed percentage is known as the "bioavailibilty" of the protein.  Beef protein is about 80% bioavailable to the body.  Fish protein?  ~83%.  The protein in eggs, remarkably, is upward of 95% bioavailable to the body!  That's impressive!

But wait, hold the phone.  

Egg protein is only 95% bioavailable to the body when the egg is COOKED.  That's right, fried, poached, boiled, you name it, that's what gets all that good protein to the forefront of your nutrient absorption.

What's the bioavailibility of raw egg protein?  about 50%.

That, my friends, is a HUGE difference!

Why is this the case?  Well, it's a funny chemical process that occurs when the egg is cooked which allows the protein to become more readily absorbed by your body.  And while I could delve into a complicated description of exactly how this chemical process works, I happened across a marvelous little webpage that explains the whole situation much better than I could.  Here's what it says:

"Heat ’em

When you apply heat, you agitate those placidly drifting egg-white proteins, bouncing them around. They slam into the surrounding water molecules; they bash into each other. All this bashing about breaks the weak bonds that kept the protein curled up. The egg proteins uncurl and bump into other proteins that have also uncurled. New chemical bonds form—but rather than binding the protein to itself, these bonds connect one protein to another. 
After enough of this bashing and bonding, the solitary egg proteins are solitary no longer. They’ve formed a network of interconnected proteins. The water in which the proteins once floated is captured and held in the protein web. If you leave the eggs at a high temperature too long, too many bonds form and the egg white becomes rubbery."

Check my references to see the rest of this page.  It's a great read.

Want another reason to cook your eggs?  One word:  Salmonella.  It's not something you want, believe me. Without going into too much detail, it's a bacteria that will make you VERY sick VERY quickly, and causes about 140 US deaths per year.  Sure, the risk of death sounds relatively low, but it also infects over a million people every year, and you do NOT want to be infected.  What's one of the biggest causes of salmonella infection?

Chicken eggs.  Yeah, bummer, I know.

Salmonella usually rests on the shell of the egg, but can also penetrate to the yoke.  It's said that 1 in every 20,000 eggs is infected with salmonella.  Sure, the risk is low, but I eat between 1-3 eggs a day, and I know people who eat upward of nine eggs daily.  If someone eats between 3 and 9 eggs daily, they'll eat between 1095 and 3285 eggs per year.  So at the bare minimum, in twenty years it's VERY likely you'll run across an egg that's salmonella infected.  Something to think about.

So what's the good news?  Cooking eggs thoroughly can eliminate salmonella bacteria within the yoke.  Wash your hands thoroughly after handling eggs though, as it can still reside on the shell.  Easy enough, right?

So what's the bottom line?  Sorry you wanna-be Rocky Balboas, downing your eggs raw is not only exposing you to an unnecessary salmonella risk, but you're wasting a heaping ton of some otherwise EXTREMELY BIOAVAILABLE protein.  Why deprive yourself of what your body needs?

Build some muscle, lose some fat, cook those eggs.  Good Luck!



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