Raw Eggs

Here is an article I ran across I thought the group would find interesting-


Raw Eggs for Your Health – Major Update

By J. Mercola, D.O.

As many of you know, I am a fond proponent of using raw eggs as a major food in your diet.

Raw whole eggs are a phenomenally inexpensive and incredible source of high-quality nutrients that many of us are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat.

Eggs generally are one of the most allergic foods that are eaten, but I believe this is because they are cooked. If one consumes the eggs in their raw state the incidence of egg allergy virtually disappears. Heating the egg protein actually changes its chemical shape, and the distortion can easily lead to allergies.

So, if you have not been able to tolerate eggs before you will want to consider eating them uncooked.

But when one discusses raw eggs, the typical reaction is a fear of salmonella. So let me begin this update, my first that comprehensively addresses the immediate concern of nearly everyone who hears this recommendation.

“Well What About Salmonella? Won’t I Get Sick If I Eat Raw Eggs?”

Salmonella is a serious infection, and it is believed that in the US over two-thirds of a million cases of human illnesses a year result from eating contaminated eggs. If you want more information on salmonella the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent page on this disease.

So why on earth would any competent health care professional ever recommend eating uncooked eggs?

When you carefully analyze the risk of contracting salmonella from raw eggs, you will find that it is actually quite low. A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this year (Risk Analysis April 2002 22(2):203-18) showed that of the 69 billion eggs produced annually, only 2.3 million of them are contaminated with salmonella.

So simple math suggests that only 0.00003 percent of eggs are infected. The translation is that only one in every 30,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella. This gives you an idea of how uncommon this problem actually is.

While it is likely that I will consume more than 30,000 eggs in my lifetime, most of you will not. However, inevitably someone out there will find a salmonella-contaminated egg, so it is important to understand how to seriously decrease your risk of infection.

Salmonella infections are usually present only in traditionally raised commercial hens. If you are purchasing your eggs from healthy chickens this infection risk reduces dramatically. Remember, only sick chickens lay salmonella-contaminated eggs. If you are obtaining high quality, cage-free, organically fed, omega-3 enhanced chicken eggs as recommended above, the risk virtually disappears.

But let’s say that for some reason, even after following that advice, you still obtain an egg that is infected. What do you do? Well, before you eat eggs - raw or not – you should thoroughly examine them for signs of infection. I have provided some guidelines at the bottom of this section for you to use in this process.

You might still be a bit nervous and say, “What if I follow these guidelines and still get an infection?”

Salmonella Is Generally a Benign Self-Limiting Illness In Healthy People

The major principle to recognize here is that if you are healthy a salmonella infection is not a big deal. You may feel sick and have loose stools, but this infection is easily treated by using high-quality probiotics that have plenty of good bacteria. You can take a dose every 30 minutes until you start to feel better, and most people improve within a few hours.

Revised Recommendations For Raw Egg Whites

Earlier this summer, I posted an article that suggested that one should not eat raw egg whites. This is the traditional nutritional dogma as raw egg whites contain a glycoprotein called avidin that is very effective at binding biotin, one of the B vitamins. The concern is that this can lead to a biotin deficiency. The simple solution is to cook the egg whites as this completely deactivates the avidin.

The problem is that it also completely deactivates nearly every other protein in the egg white. While you will still obtain nutritional benefits from consuming cooked egg whites, from a nutritional perspective it would seem far better to consume them uncooked.

Since making the recommendation in July, I have more carefully studied this issue. Two groups brought me to back this: pet owners who feed their pets raw foods and Aajonus Vonderplanitz, who wrote the raw food book We Want to Live. Both feel quite strongly that raw eggs are just fine to eat.

After my recent studies it became clear that the egg’s design carefully compensated for this issue.

It put tons of biotin in the egg yolk. Egg yolks have one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature. So it is likely that you will not have a biotin deficiency if you consume the whole raw egg, yolk and white. It is also clear, however, that if you only consume raw egg whites, you are nearly guaranteed to develop a biotin deficiency unless you take a biotin supplement.

The following tables list the amounts of biotin in some common foods, as well as recommended daily amounts:

Food Serving Biotin (mcg)
Liver, cooked 3 ounces* 27
Egg, cooked 1 large 25
Yeast, bakers active 1 packet (7 grams) 14
Wheat bran, crude 1 ounce 14
Bread, whole wheat 1 slice 6
Cheese, camembert 1 ounce 6
Avocado 1 whole 6
Salmon, cooked 3 ounces* 4
Cauliflower, raw 1 cup 4
Chicken, cooked 3 ounces* 3
Cheese, cheddar 1 ounce 2
Pork, cooked 3 ounces* 2
Raspberries 1 cup 2
Artichoke, cooked 1 medium 2

Adequate Intake (AI) for Biotin
Life Stage Age Males (mcg/day) Females (mcg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 5 5
Infants 7-12 months 6 6
Children 1-3 years 8 8
Children 4-8 years 12 12
Children 9-13 years 20 20
Adolescents 14-18 years 25 25
Adults 19 years and older 30 30
Pregnancy all ages - 30
Breastfeeding all ages - 35

There is a potential problem with using the entire raw egg if you are pregnant. Biotin deficiency is a common concern in pregnancy and it is possible that consuming whole raw eggs would make it worse.

If you are pregnant you have two options. The first is to actually measure for a biotin deficiency. This is best done through urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-HIA), which increases as a result of the decreased activity of the biotin-dependent enzyme methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase.

It might take you some time to get used to using raw eggs. I personally have shifted to consuming them “Rocky style” one egg with the yolk intact and swallowing them whole. Usually two eggs at one sitting.

Alternatively, you could have your raw eggs in a protein shake or Living Fuel Rx or take a biotin supplement.

Guidelines To Ensure That You Are Consuming Fresh High- Quality Eggs

1 Always check the freshness of the egg right before you consume the yolk.

2 If you are uncertain about the freshness of an egg, don’t eat it. This is one of the best safeguards against salmonella infection.

3 If there is a crack in the shell, don’t eat it. You can easily check for this by immersing the egg in a pan of cool, salted water. If the egg emits a tiny stream of bubbles, don’t consume it as the shell is porous/contains a hole.

4 If you are getting your eggs fresh from a farmer it is best to not refrigerate them. This is the way most of the world stores their eggs; they do not refrigerate them. To properly judge the freshness of an egg, its contents need to be at room temperature. Eggs that are stored in the fridge and opened immediately after taking them out will seem fresher than they actually are. Eggs that you want to check the freshness of should be kept outside the fridge for at least an hour prior to opening them.

5 First, check all the eggs by rolling them across a flat surface. Only consume them if they roll wobbly.

6 Open the egg. If the egg white is watery instead of gel-like, don’t consume the egg. If the egg yolk is not convex and firm, don’t consume the egg. If the egg yolk easily bursts, don’t consume the egg.

7 After opening the egg you can put it up to your nose and smell it. If it smells foul you will certainly not want to consume it.

How to Start Using Raw Eggs

If you are not used to eating fresh raw egg yolks or fresh raw fish, you should start by eating just a tiny bit of it on a daily basis, and then gradually increase the portions.

For example, start by consuming only a few drops of raw egg yolk a day for the first three days. Gradually increase the amount that you consume in three-day increments. Try half a teaspoon for three days, then one teaspoon, then two teaspoons. When you are accustomed to that amount, increase it to one raw egg yolk per day and subsequently to two raw egg yolks per day. Eventually, you can easily eat five raw egg yolks daily.

Fresh raw egg yolk tastes like vanilla and is best combined with your vegetable pulp. You can also combine it with avocado. Only stir it gently with a fork, because egg protein easily gets damaged on a molecular level, even by mixing/blending.

Here is the abstract for the risk of Salmonella-

Risk Anal. 2002 Apr; 22(2): 203-18.

An overview of the Salmonella enteritidis risk assessment for shell eggs and egg products.

Hope BK, Baker R, Edel ED, Hogue AT, Schlosser WD, Whiting R, McDowell RM, Morales RA.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Washington, DC, USA. hope.bruce@deq.state.or.us

This article summarizes a quantitative microbial risk assessment designed to characterize the public health impact of consumption of shell eggs and egg products contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). This risk assessment’s objectives were to: (1) establish the baseline risk of foodborne illness from SE, (2) identify and evaluate potential risk mitigation strategies, and (3) identify data gaps related to future research efforts. The risk assessment model has five modules. The Egg Production module estimates the number of eggs produced that are SE-contaminated. Shell Egg Processing, Egg Products Processing, and Preparation & Consumption modules estimate the increase or decrease in the numbers of SE organisms in eggs or egg products as they pass through storage, transportation, processing, and preparation. A Public Health Outcomes module then calculates the incidence of illnesses and four clinical outcomes, as well as the cases of reactive arthritis associated with SE infection following consumption. The baseline model estimates an average production of 2.3 million SE-contaminated shell eggs/year of the estimated 69 billion produced annually and predicts an average of 661,633, human illnesses per year from consumption of these eggs. The model estimates approximately 94% of these cases recover without medical care, 5% visit a physician, an additional 0.5% are hospitalized, and 0.05% result in death. The contribution of SE from commercially pasteurized egg products was estimated to be negligible. Five mitigation scenarios were selected for comparison of their individual and combined effects on the number of human illnesses. Results suggest that mitigation in only one segment of the farm-to-table continuum will be less effective than several applied in different segments. Key data gaps and areas for future research include the epidemiology of SE on farms, the bacteriology of SE in eggs, human behavior in food handling and preparation, and human responses to SE exposure.


Don’t Be Chicken of the Egg
The egg has been much maligned over the years with the popularity of low-fat diets. Recently, a nutrition conference entitled “Where Would We Be Without the Egg? A Conference About Nature’s Original Functional Food” was held, and the abstracts of the presentations were published as a supplement to the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Here we present a summary of some of the important information presented.

Where Would We Be Without the Egg?

Dr. Clare M. Hasler, Ph.D, of the University of Illinois gave a presentation entitled “The Changing Face of Functional Foods” in which she defines ‘functional foods’ as “…those providing health benefits beyond basic nutrition and include whole, fortified, enriched or enhanced foods which have a potentially beneficial effect on health…”

She notes that “eggs have not traditionally been regarded as a functional food, primarily due to concerns about their adverse effects on serum cholesterol levels.” However, “it is now known that there is little if any connection between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels…” she states.

In addition, Dr. Hasler notes that “…eggs are an excellent dietary source of many essential (e.g., protein, choline) and non-essential (e.g., lutein/zeaxanthin) components which may promote optimal health.”


In a presentation entitled “Beyond the Zone: Protein Needs of Active Individuals”, Dr. Peter W.R. Lemon, Ph.D., of the Exercise Nutrition Research Laboratory, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, he addresses the important nutritional issue of protein.

He notes that although there has been debate and disagreement for centuries regarding human needs for dietary protein, recent scientific data seems to indicate that physically active individuals have significantly higher daily protein requirements. As a matter of fact, protein requirements may be increased by perhaps as much as 100% or more in very active vs. sedentary individuals. These needs have been calculated to be, on average, as follows:

Sedentary - 0.8 grams of protein per 1 kg of body weight

Physically Active - 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per 1 kg of body weight

Therefore, Dr. Lemon recommends that official recommendations for protein intake should be adjusted upwards for physically active people, particularly those people with higher needs for protein, such as:

Children and adolescents
People with muscle disease-induced weakness
Lastly, Dr. Lemon notes that most physically active people who consume a varied diet that includes complete protein foods (animal products), can get enough protein from their diets, with no need for taking any protein supplements.


While most people associate carotenoids with vegetables, eggs are actually a very good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids which are yellow or orange carotenoids known as xanthophylls, according to Suzen M. Moeller, MS, and colleugues at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

These carotenoids are known to accumulate in the eye lens and macular region of the retina, where concentrations are the highest.

Some research has suggested that these carotenoids may protect the eyes. This may be due to the ability of these substances to protect the eye from damage caused by ultraviolet light by quenching reactive oxygen species.

Studies have shown that high dietary intake of lutein and zeaxanthin, is associated with a significant reduction in the risk for:

Cataract (up to 20% reduction)

Age-related Macular Degeneration (up to 40% reduction)
Other good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli.


The importance of the essential nutrient choline and the egg’s potential to supply it, was the subject of a presentation by Dr. Steven H. Zeisel, MD, PhD, of the School of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, entitled “Choline: Needed For Normal Development of Memory”.

“Choline is a dietary component essential for normal function of all cells,” states Dr. Zeisel, noting that eggs are an excellent dietary source of choline.

It is responsible for the structural integrity and signaling functions of cell membranes.

It is the major source of methyl-groups in the diet (one of choline’s metabolites, betaine, participates in the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine)

It directly affects nerve signaling, cell signaling and lipid transport/metabolism.
In 1998, the National Academy of Sciences, USA, issued a report identifying choline as a required nutrient for humans and recommended daily intake amounts.

In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, choline may be required in greater quantity as the mother’s reserves are depleted. This is critical, because the availability of choline for normal brain development is critical.

In experimental in rats, newborn rats who received choline supplements, either in utero or during the second week of life, showed improved brain functioning and greater lifelong memory capabilities, probably due to changes in the development of the memory center (hippocampus) in the brain.

“The mother’s dietary choline during a critical period in brain development of her infant influences the rate of birth and death of nerve cells in this center,” according to Dr. Zeisel. “These changes are so important that we can pick out the groups of animals whose mothers had extra choline even when these animals are elderly.”

In other words, if the same association holds true in humans, this means that the memory capacity of an adult is greatly influenced by the diet that his mother ate during her pregnancy.

Dr. Zeisel notes that this critical need for choline during early brain development is very similar to the need for folate during early gestation as well. “If folate isn’t available in the first few weeks of pregnancy, the brain does not form normally,” he states.

Therefore he stresses that pregnancy is a critical period during which special attention has to be paid to ensure adequate dietary intake of various nutrients.

Demonization of the Egg

The cause of recent declines in egg consumption can be traced back to a “food scare” that began all the way back in the 1960s, according to Dr. William. Alex McIntosh, PhD, of the Department of Rural Sociology, Texas A&M University, who gave a presentation entitled “The Symbolization of Eggs in American Culture: A Sociologic Analysis”.

Using the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, the frequency of articles about eggs, dietary cholesterol and heart disease in popular magazines was obtained. An analysis was performed on the content of a random sample of these articles and it was discovered that the increasing trend of negative articles about eggs and public statements by groups such as the American Heart Association linking eggs, blood cholesterol and heart disease is associated with the decline in egg consumption.

Dr. McIntosh concludes that “Public exposure to negative messages about particular foods can contribute to a decline in their consumption” and therefore by exposing the public to more positive messages about foods can bring about an increase in the consumption of those foods.

The Cholesterol Issue

Do eggs adversely effect cholesterol levels? Most people would answer “yes” without even thinking twice. However, this seems to be a popular misconception, not supported by the evidence, according to Dr. Donald J. McNamara, PhD, of the Egg Nutrition Center, in Washington, DC, who made a presentation entitled “The Impact of Egg Limitations on Coronary Heart Disease Risk: Do the Numbers Add Up?”

According to Dr. McNamara:

For over 25 years eggs have been the icon for the fat, cholesterol and caloric excesses in the American diet, and the message to limit eggs to lower heart disease risk has been widely circulated. The “dietary cholesterol equals blood cholesterol” view is a standard of dietary recommendations, yet few consider whether the evidence justifies such restrictions.
He notes that studies demonstrate that dietary cholesterol increases both LDL and HDL cholesterol with essentially no change in the important LDL:HDL cholesterol ratio.

For example, the addition of 100 mg cholesterol per day to the diet increases LDL cholesterol by 1.9 mg/dL, but that is accompanied by a 0.4 mg/dL increase in HDL cholesterol.

This, on average, means that the LDL:HDL ratio change per 100 mg/day change in dietary cholesterol is from 2.60 to 2.61, which is likely not even statistically significant and would probably have no influence on heart disease risk.

This helps to “…explain the epidemiological studies showing that dietary cholesterol is not related to coronary heart disease incidence or mortality,” concludes Dr. McNamara.

The Egg’s Role in the Current American Diet

Despite the decline in egg consumption, they still make “…important nutritional contributions to the American diet,” according to Dr. Won O. Song, PhD, and Jean M. Kerver, MS, of the Food and Nutrition Database Research Center, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. They explored this issue during their presentation entitled “Nutritional Contribution of Eggs to American Diets”.

The researchers used data from the most recent National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES III, 1988-94) to compare the nutritional intake of diets that contained eggs with those that did not.

Nutrient intake, egg intake, sociodemographic data and blood cholesterol levels of over 27,000 subjects were grouped according to the occurrence and frequency of egg consumption.

Daily nutrient intake of people consuming eggs was significantly greater than non-egg eaters for all nutrients studied, except dietary fiber and vitamin B6. BOLD4

In the egg group, eggs contributed < 10% of the daily intake of:

Total energy
Vitamin B6
10% to 20% of:

Total, Saturated and Polyunsaturated Fat
20% to 30% of:

Vitamin A
Vitamin E
Vitamin B12
Non-egg eaters had higher rates of inadequate intake for:

Vitamin B12 (10% vs. 21%)
Vitamin A (16% vs. 21%)
Vitamin E (14% vs. 22%)
Vitamin C (15% vs. 20%)
They also note that dietary cholesterol was not related to serum cholesterol concentration. As a matter of fact, people who reported eating 4 eggs/wk had a significantly lower mean serum cholesterol concentration than those who reported eating 1 egg/wk (193 mg/dL vs. 197 mg/dL).

The authors conclude that eggs make “…important nutritional contributions to the American diet.”

Journal of the American College of Nutrition October, 2000 (Supplement)


Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. However, it is important that you eat organic eggs. This is not necessarily cage-free or “free range” eggs.

Organic eggs will say so on the box (or you will know from the person who raises the chickens). An egg is considered organic if the chicken was only fed organic food and will not have bioaccumulated high levels of pesticides from the grains (mostly bioengineered corn) fed to typical chickens.

One must be cautious and not eat eggs every day as they have high potential for developing an allergy.

With respect to preparing the eggs, raw eggs may not be the problem you think they are (see below). But whatever method you use, the less exposure to oxygen and heat, the better the egg will serve as source of good nutrition for you.

More on the possible salmonella issue-


One in 20,000 Eggs Contain Salmonella

One out of every 20,000 eggs sold in the US contains salmonella bacteria, and such contaminated eggs cause more than 800,000 cases of human food poisoning every year, according to estimates released on June 5 by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Salmonella-related food poisoning has been increasing since 1976 despite efforts by the egg industry to limit the bacteria, and the USDA report is part of an ongoing effort by food safety experts to determine better ways to prevent egg-related illness. About 94% of people recover from salmonella food poisoning without medical attention, but 5% of people see a doctor, 0.5% are hospitalized and 0.05% die because of the bacteria. Those who are particularly vulnerable are infants, the elderly, pregnant women, transplant patients, and those with weakened immune systems – about 20% of the population.

COMMENT: Unless you are allergic to eggs, you should eat them regularly. Do not eat them every day or you will develop an allergy to them. I strongly recommend purchasing only organic eggs to avoid the salmonella issue. The risk of salmonella is tremendously decreased in organically raised chickens. If you should ever come down with salmonella diarrhea, immediately use an acidophilus preparation. My personal preference is Flora Source (issue #47). The key is to use it every hour until you are better. I have literally seen it work dozens of times. If you are not better in a few days, you should see your doctor for a stool culture as you might need an antibiotic to kill the infection.

If you want more information on salmonella from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- here is the link-