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Egg Facts and Controversies

Clemson/ USDA Egg Safety Fact Sheet

I never thought much about how pen-raising and artificial feeds changed the eggs chickens produced until I spent a summer feeding ground-running chickens a cracked-grain feed and eating the eggs they laid in return. They have a different color, texture, and flavor than the typical "store-bought" type. Fresh fertile eggs from organic vegetable feeds, sold in some health food stores and neighborhood farms, are pretty widely available now, and the taste alone is worth the extra cost. Of course they also have nutritional benefits, not the least of which is an absence of antibiotics and pesticides.

Many people have severely cut back their egg-eating with an idea that eggs increase cholesterol problems. Eggs, like many dairy products, also contain a substantial amount of the compounds your body needs to break down cholesterol. The most recent studies indicate that except for certain genetically sensitive families, arterial problems and heart disease are much more closely associated with lack of exercise, decreased fiber in the diet, and high intake of refined carbohydrates such as white sugar, rather than with dietary fat/cholesterol intake alone. In fact, some primitive tribes that consume highly saturated-fat diets with few carbohydrates show little or no heart disease until they are introduced to carbohydrate foods. So, unless your doctor specifically deletes eggs from your diet, you can use this high quality, high protein inexpensive food frequently, as long as you live and eat healthy, including plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Your body naturally produces cholesterol from food, using your liver. If you severely restrict your intake of cholesterol-containing foods, the body will increase its production. Cholesterol has valid functions in the body, including the production of natural hormones and vitamin D. Cholesterol and other fatty compounds are easily made in the body from carbohydrates; maybe the tremendous increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrate foods combined with the decreased availability of foods containing vitamin E and other substances needed to break down cholesterol is a more important factor than the simple increase or decrease of cholesterol-containing foods in increasing the serum cholesterol of the population.