Long accused of being the cause of elevated cholesterol and heart problems, eggs, definitively "exonerated", are actually one of the most great foods available to us. They are a source of precious essential nutrients and contain proteins with a high biological value, complete with essential amino acids, and of the highest quality; the yolk is rich in fats – mostly mono and polyunsaturated, with a good percentage of oleic acid – but also vitamins, mineral salts and antioxidants, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

Due to a misreading of some scientific studies, it was believed for many years that eggs were a significant risk factor for the heart. By a strange twist of fate, exactly the opposite is true; eggs are in fact a precious ally for those suffering from autoimmune diseases, endocrine and metabolic imbalances, and leaky gut. Where does the misunderstanding come from? From the obviously incorrect belief that eggs – having a high percentage of cholesterol (an egg contains about 160 mg, about double the same amount of chicken breast) – caused an increase also in our body.

The fundamental role of cholesterol

Meanwhile, cholesterol is a fundamental fat with countless functions; it promotes protein synthesis, allows the secretion of some hormones, plays an essential role in the absorption of vitamin D and is important for maintaining a good endocrine and metabolic balance.

But why do cholesterol values increase? It is because of an inflammatory state; it is therefore not itself the cause of the inflammation. We should rather ask ourselves what the motivation could be, considering it as an alarm bell and a signal not to be underestimated; medicine use, hormonal imbalances, infections and autoimmune diseases are some of the most common causes. Furthermore, cholesterol introduced with food has a rather marginal impact on the blood lipid profile, or the set of fats present in the blood; this is because a healthy body is able to regulate its absorption, reducing its assimilation if the diet contains more.

So your food choices have nothing to do with raising it and is it possible to eat whatever you want? The answer is, of course, no. Due to misinterpreted scientific notions, we are led to believe that products rich in cholesterol – such as eggs – are the cause of the increase in blood cholesterol. It is not so, carbohydrates, and in particular sugars, determine an increase. The enzyme that produces cholesterol in our body is stimulated by sugars and – amazingly, but true – inhibited by food cholesterol.

Therefore, those with rather high blood cholesterol levels should reduce the sources of refined carbohydrates, sugars and processed products, increasing the consumption of eggs, fiber and those foods that are poorly processed and as healthy as possible. It is important to focus on nutrition as a whole, which must include high quantities of vegetables, fruit, variety in the choices and alternation between protein sources (which must all be of excellent quality), and on lifestyle. It is also essential to get to the root of the problem, identifying the cause and trying to act effectively on it.

Eggs, a food with extraordinary properties

Eggs are a food with an exceptional nutritional profile; their main quality is the content of noble proteins with a high biological value, complete with all essential amino acids; they are rich in cholesterol – but the lecithins present in the yolk favor the activity of HDL (of the so-called "good" cholesterol) – and above all of iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium and calcium; good quantity of vitamin K, useful for strengthening bones, and B vitamins, especially B12, essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins; in eggs we also find vitamin D, essential for the proper functioning of the immune system and to prevent osteoporosis in adulthood; they also have a significant content of folic acid, which is important for cell growth and reproduction.

On average, an egg contains 70-80 calories; it is therefore a relatively low-calorie food, perfect for athletes, those who suffer from anemia and convalescent people; eggs are also particularly satiating, therefore ideal even in those who are following a slimming regime. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two important antioxidants, play a protective role in eye health, particularly for those diseases related to aging (such as macular degeneration). Eggs also represent an effective remedy against asthenia and bad mood; thanks to the presence of proteins, mineral salts, vitamins and essential fatty acids, they contribute to the metabolic regulation and guarantee elasticity and tone of the tissues.

Practical advice and consumption quantities

The first advice is certainly to choose high quality eggs, therefore organic or, better still, bought from the trusted farmer. Consume them early in the morning, as an integral part of a healthy and balanced breakfast; enjoy them with one or two slices of wholemeal rye bread, add a few slices of avocado (or a handful of oil seeds) and a portion of fresh fruit and you will see for yourself the increased energy, focus and satiety you will have throughout the day.

Choose simple cooking methods, to preserve the excellent digestibility of the eggs: soft-boiled, poached, fried, boiled for just 4-5 minutes, so that the yolk remains liquid and the nutritional properties of the food are not altered; it is also possible to prepare an omelette with vegetables or in a sweet version, with cinnamon and apple pulp, for a delicious breakfast. Fried, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs should instead be consumed in moderation because they are more demanding on the digestive level; prolonged cooking denatures the proteins of the egg white and our stomach will take more than three hours to digest them.

In general, except for those with a specific allergy or gallbladder problems, it is possible to consume eggs with some freedom, even one a day, certainly two a couple of times a week. This food, as already mentioned above, has exceptional nutritional properties; an egg contains the iron present in 100 grams of fillet, vitamin D and carotenoids, and it is a very valuable ally especially for convalescing and elderly people, athletes and even for those on a slimming diet. Especially women with low fertility problems, hormonal imbalances, concentration problems, hypothyroidism and chronic fatigue should increase their consumption.

A consumption that, however, must be carried out with awareness; for category 0 eggs, that are organic ones, the legislation provides for strict requirements regarding the feeding of hens; the forage must come from organic farming and can be integrated with traditional foods up to a maximum of 20 percent. On the contrary, for the other categories, there is no regulation and the animal feed used will certainly be the most convenient, from an economic point of view, for the producer; the differences between the various categories also concern the breeding conditions; the birds belonging to category 0 have 10 square meters available for scratching about, while for the others the spaces are much more restricted. And don't be fooled by the words "free-range", in these cases the hens are not free anyway.