Can You Get Sick From Raw Eggs?
Delicious, delicious eggs – I love them. They packed with protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Remember, though, that everyone says to cook them well, or you’ll risk getting sick from them. Remember, raw eggs carry the risk of salmonella contamination. Well, conventional wisdom isn’t always right, and let me tell you why I love eating raw eggs (and I’ve yet to get sick).
The Risk of Salmonella Contamination In Eggs Is Overblown
First, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, raw chicken eggs do get contaminated with salmonella. It’s not a myth – it is a fact. However, let’s take a look at some statistics produce by an analytical risk assessment of raw egg contamination on a national-scale. The risk analysis was performed by the United States Department of Agriculture.
It is estimated that out of 69 billion eggs produced, about 2.3 million eggs are contaminated with salmonella. That’s about one in 30,000 eggs contaminated with salmonella. Also, with people infected by the salmonella bacteria, only 0.5% cases resulted in death. So, as harmful and deadly that salmonella is, the risk is exaggerated in my opinion.
To recap, for any egg you consume, you have a one in 30,000 chance that your egg is contaminated, and you have a 99.5% chance of surviving if you (knock on wood) were to ever get infected with salmonella. Not that I am telling anyone to ignore the risk – it is your responsibility to ensure your food is properly prepared and not contaminated with food-borne illnesses.
Eggs Are Super Nutritious, Even When Raw
We all know that this is the kind of food if you want to get some good nutrition. However, not everyone has the time to fry up some eggs sunny-side up or scrambled. So does that mean those people are out of luck if they want to consume eggs? No! Just look at what I do. My blog is filled with recipes that use raw eggs or raw egg yolks.
Cracking a few eggs into my paleo protein shake is a great way to get in more bang for my buck, while cutting down the time spent in my kitchen. It’s great because the eggs usually thicken up the shake (and I dislike thin, runny protein shakes). I also never taste any egg “flavor” when I consume them raw in my shakes – the other ingredients usually mask the taste quite well. Oh, and because it’s all liquid, it’s a good idea for a bulking/bodybuilding program, because of the ease in consuming liquid calories.
Bioavailability Of Nutrients In Raw Eggs
The yolks of eggs contain most of the fat and micronutrients, and the egg whites contain the protein. Let’s see how the bioavailability in each part of the egg is when raw or cooked.
I believe it is generally accepted that excessive heating of foods lead to a breakdown and loss of vitamins. There’s one study in which researchers found that excessive heating breaks down beta-carotene. Being that the yolks are the part of the eggs that contain all of the vitamins, it can be argued that raw egg yolks contain more nutrition, even if it’s slightly larger amount. This is an obvious advantage over cooked egg yolks.
With protein, this macronutrient is made more readily digestible and absorbed when cooked. In one study, researchers found there to be only 50% bioavailability for the protein in raw egg whites, as opposed to the much greater 90% bioavailability for the protein in cooked egg whites. So, we are in fact taking a loss for protein when consuming raw eggs. What can we do about this?
What I’ve been doing lately is cracking my eggs into a bowl, scooping the yolks out and dropping them into a blender, and then frying and scrambling my whites. I make myself some yummy scrambled egg whites, and wash it down with a delicious paleo protein shake (usually with my favorite orange creamsicle paleo protein shake). I’m getting the best of both worlds here – raw egg yolks and cooked egg whites.
I’m increasing the amount of micronutrients and vitamins in my eggs, while increasing the bioavailability of the protein in my eggs. Seriously, you can’t make it better than that. (Well, on second thought, I could just fry some eggs sunny-side up, and make sure the yolks are still super runny and undercooked.)
Anyway, I hope you find this take on raw egg consumption interesting. Now, you can make a better decision on whether or not eating raw eggs is safe. As always, it is your responsibility to ensure that your sources of food are free of food-borne illnesses, and that you must decide what are the risks associated with different types of food-preparation.