Raw eggs can be bad for you. The health implications, particularly the risk of salmonella, outweigh any increased benefits of eating an egg in its raw state.
The debate over eating raw eggs has been going on for years and whilst most people acknowledge the potential risks of eating raw eggs, there are some who suggest that the risk can be greatly reduced by choosing the right type of egg and the amount of raw egg consumed in your diet.
There are so many myths surrounding raw eggs that it's very difficult to make any kind of informed decision; so let's present the facts and you can decide for yourself whether eating raw eggs is worth the risk.
Let's break it down; first of all, the egg is made up of two components - the egg yolk (the central yellow part) and the egg white (the transparent substance surrounding the yolk). The egg white has long been considered an excellent source of protein and contains few calories and no cholesterol. Egg yolks are rich in vitamins and minerals and contain choline, a nutrient that has been proven to help manage cardiovascular functions. A recent study also suggests that a high level of choline in the body can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.
Each part of the egg also comes with its own drawbacks. Yolk has a high cholesterol content. Cholesterol is associated with heart disease. Egg whites have been known to cause biotin (vitamin B7) depletion that may result in muscle cramps and hair loss.
Like with many foods, cooking eggs will reduce their nutritional value. According to the National Nutrient Database that is managed by the US department of agriculture, raw eggs contain 36% more vitamin D, 33% more omega-3s, and 23% more choline. However, some would argue that this drop in nutritional content is unlikely to make much of a difference as the egg has (with the exception of choline) far too little of these nutrients in the first place - there are other sources and food types that will ensure that you get your recommended daily intake so you shouldn't be relying on eggs alone anyways. Whilst cooking eggs will reduce their nutritional value, the method of cooking can ensure that you can minimize the amount of nutrients lost. The recommended method is soft boiling the egg.
By far the greatest risk when eating raw eggs is the presence of harmful bacteria. The most common bacterial risk is infection from salmonella. A victim of salmonella poisoning is at risk of catching gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines that causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and cramps.
As previously stated, there are those who suggest that the risk of salmonella in raw eggs can be reduced by choosing the right kind of egg. Organic, pasteurized eggs are supposedly safer than eggs that are non-pasteurised and produced by caged hens. There is little evidence that this is the case. Salmonella is naturally formed in the intestinal tract of the chicken regardless of how both chicken and egg are treated. Salmonella is reported to affect 1.5 million Americans every year and of those, 15,000 are hospitalized.
With the aforementioned in mind, it seems that the risks associated with eating raw eggs are too great compared to the benefits. Be wary of the myths surrounding the eating of raw eggs and consume at your own risk.
Possible short-term side effects
Possible long-term side effects
- heart disease
- high cholesterol levels
- kidney damage
Ingredients to be aware of
- high choline content