Eating Raw Eggs
Posted on: June 13th 2022
Whether you’re a weightlifter who gulps down raw eggs after a workout or you’re a holiday eggnog fanatic, chances are you consume some form of raw egg. In fact, the number of common recipes and food items that contain raw eggs might surprise you! So what is the appeal of eating raw eggs, and is eating raw eggs good or bad?
We’ll take a look at some of the most essential questions surrounding the consumption of raw eggs below. Discover whether raw eggs can hurt you, how healthy or good for muscle-building they are, what health benefits they offer, and the risks they pose. Learn more about the pros and cons of eating raw eggs before deciding whether you want to join Team Raw or Team Cooked.
Can Raw Eggs Hurt You?
The biggest concern about eating raw eggs is whether doing so can harm your health. This is a valid concern because raw eggs can hurt you if they contain bad bacteria known as salmonella. Salmonella is the group of bacteria most commonly responsible for causing food poisoning. This foodborne illness occurs quickly and causes uncomfortable symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.
These symptoms tend to last about four to seven days, and most people start feeling better without any treatment. But some people can experience more severe symptoms that require hospitalization. Serious cases of food poisoning need to be treated as quickly as possible to prevent the salmonella infection from spreading to the bloodstream and other sites within the body.
Salmonella bacteria can be killed with heat or changes in pH, such as the pickling or curing processes that alter the acid-alkaline balance of foods. Because raw eggs haven’t encountered any heat or changes to their pH, consuming raw eggs puts you at risk of contracting food poisoning from salmonella.
Cooking eggs is, of course, the simplest and easiest way to kill salmonella and ensure your meal’s safety. Most people also prefer cooking their eggs because raw eggs have a potentially off-putting texture that makes eating raw eggs far less tempting.
Cooking your eggs is a good food safety habit to get into because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one egg out of every 20,000 eggs may be contaminated with salmonella. Although these odds may sound low, consuming raw eggs is not worth the risk of suffering from food poisoning symptoms like digestive system issues.
Choose the Right Eggs
It can be perfectly healthy to consume raw eggs as long as you purchase the right kind. Pasteurized eggs are acceptable to eat raw because these eggs have undergone a process of being treated with heat in-shell to destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
Pasteurized eggs also come in handy when making common food items that include raw eggs as an ingredient. A surprising amount of salad dressings, sauces, dips, desserts, and beverages frequently involve raw eggs, like:
- Caesar salad dressing
- Hollandaise sauce
- Carbonara pasta sauce
Rest assured that any raw egg products sold in a supermarket must use eggs that have been pasteurized. That means you don’t have to worry about getting food poisoning from your store-bought bottle of Caesar salad dressing. If you plan on making a recipe that contains raw eggs at home, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using pasteurized eggs whenever possible.
Even when you use pasteurized eggs, there is still a slight risk of salmonella whenever raw eggs are involved. Do your best to minimize this risk by using pasteurized eggs that are as fresh as possible and cleaning the eggshell just before cracking it open.
Are Raw Eggs Healthier Than Cooked?
Now that you know that you can eat pasteurized eggs raw, you’re probably wondering whether that’s a healthier alternative to cooked eggs. Consuming raw eggs can be appealing to some people because raw eggs contain a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals.
One large egg contains the following estimated percentages of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for each nutrient:
- Vitamin A: 5%
- Vitamin B2: 14%
- Vitamin B5: 7%
- Vitamin B9: 6%
- Vitamin B12: 11%
- Phosphorus: 10%
- Selenium: 23%
- Protein: 13%
In addition to these standard vitamins and minerals, eggs are filled with other beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, carotenoids, and healthy fats. Many of the chicken eggs sold in supermarkets are even enriched to have extra healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These powerful nutrients can help a variety of your organs function at their highest capacity, including your heart and brain.
Because eggs are so nutrient-rich, eating pasteurized raw egg yolks and drinking raw egg whites can offer a range of healthy vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids. Lots of people are drawn to raw eggs because they retain more of these nutrients than cooked eggs.
After going through the cooking process, eggs typically show a reduction in the number of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids they contain. In particular, cooking methods that use high temperatures and long cooking times, such as frying the eggs or hard-boiling them, cause more nutrients to degrade. In this sense, raw eggs have a better nutritional value compared with cooked eggs.
Cooking your eggs can assist your body with absorbing some of the nutrients found in eggs. Research has shown that cooking your eggs has a direct effect on digestibility by helping your body absorb protein. So even though there might be a bit more nutrients found in raw eggs, raw ones tend to be less healthy because the body can struggle to absorb these nutrients when they have not been cooked.
Although cooking your eggs can help your body process their nutrients more easily, over-cooking your eggs can cause other digestibility issues. Overcooked eggs can be challenging for your digestive system to handle, which means hard-boiled and fried eggs are more difficult for your body to digest than more lightly cooked eggs, such as soft-boiled eggs.
Certain cooking methods can also cause dangerous compounds known as glycotoxins — which have been linked to multiple types of chronic disease, including diabetes — to form in your food. Glycotoxins begin to form when foods get over-cooked or cooked on high heat. For this reason, raw eggs are free of glycotoxins, while eggs cooked at medium to low heat have a low number of glycotoxins. Ones prepared over high heat can have higher glycotoxin numbers.
Overall, whether you’re considering glycotoxin development or nutrient absorption, the healthiest type of egg you can eat will typically be one that is lightly cooked at low or medium heat. Eating lightly cooked eggs may make it easier for your body to digest their nutrients and give you peace of mind about killing any potential salmonella bacteria.
Are Raw Eggs Good for Muscle-Building?
Over time, eating raw eggs has become popular in the bodybuilding world as a quick way to consume more protein and build more muscle. Most often, bodybuilders will add raw eggs to their post-workout shakes or smoothies to boost their protein intake. While cracking a raw egg into your cup will up your shake or smoothie’s protein content, eating a lightly cooked egg instead will give your body even more protein to work with.
Choose Cooked Eggs for Muscle-Building
A cooked egg is a better protein source for athletes. The nutrients of cooked eggs, which include protein, get broken down by the cooking process to make them more digestible than the nutrients in raw eggs. Studies have shown that the body can absorb only about half of the protein in raw eggs when compared with the amount of absorbable protein provided by cooked eggs.
Specifically, the body can only absorb about 50%-60% of the protein found in raw eggs, as opposed to 90% of the protein contained in cooked eggs. You’d no longer need to force-feed yourself raw eggs in hopes of gaining muscle. Instead, you can have a delicious, over-easy egg that will taste much better and deliver more protein to your growing muscles.
In addition to helping your body absorb more protein, eating cooked eggs can help your body get other essential nutrients for workout recovery. Eggs naturally contain the water-soluble vitamin known as biotin, which is crucial for hair and nail growth as well as for nervous system health and processing carbohydrates.
On the other hand, raw eggs contain a protein known as avidin, which blocks biotin from being absorbed. Cooking your eggs breaks down the avidin to allow your body to absorb the egg’s biotin properly. Cooked eggs can then help you strengthen your hair, nails, and muscles.
Of course, there are also the dangers of salmonella to think about. Avoiding salmonella and other foodborne illnesses is always a good reason for cooking your eggs. Cooking your eggs might help you gain muscle in the long run by allowing you to stick to your workout plan instead of having to take time off from the gym because of food poisoning.
Alternatives to Raw Eggs for Muscle-Building
Instead of downing a bunch of raw eggs after lifting, try scooping some whey protein, soy milk, or Greek yogurt into your recovery shake or smoothie. Opting for one of these nutrient-dense alternatives and having scrambled eggs on the side will help you get more digestible protein in your diet.
If you do choose to consume raw eggs, make sure they are pasteurized to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Keep your raw pasteurized eggs in the refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth. The refrigerator’s cold temperatures will make it harder for bacteria to grow on the eggs’ shells.
Benefits of Eating Raw Eggs
If you are still wondering what the appeal of drinking raw eggs is, looking at the benefits of consuming raw eggs may clear things up. Eating raw eggs has its fair share of health advantages. Below, you’ll discover the five aspects of your health that eating raw eggs can benefit most.
Of the many essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants found in raw eggs, lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the most beneficial components for eye health. These two powerful carotenoids protect your eyes and make eye-related diseases less likely to occur. As a bonus, lutein and zeaxanthin have also been shown to lessen the risk of other health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
2. Heart Health
Raw eggs can help your heart out by providing it with high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” kind of cholesterol. High HDL cholesterol can help protect your heart from the bad kind of cholesterol, which is known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Be mindful that raw eggs are full of both kinds of cholesterol, so you will want to limit your consumption of raw eggs to keep your intake of LDL low.
Along with HDL, eggs are packed with fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which enhance heart health by bringing down the bad cholesterol levels. The antioxidants and carotenoids found in raw eggs can also help decrease the risk of heart disease.
3. Brain Function
You can help your brain work better by consuming eggs more regularly. Raw eggs contain a high amount of choline, which is an essential factor of brain function. Fortunately, eggs are extremely nutrient-dense, and enjoying just one egg in the morning can provide you with a sufficient dose of choline.
On top of being a great source of choline, eggs are rich in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for your brain health because they can help with brain cell survival and repair as well as protect against neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Immune System Strength
Eggs contain high levels of vitamin A and vitamin B12, both of which play key roles in strengthening the immune system. By offering an abundance of vitamin A, vitamin B12, antioxidants, and other vital nutrients, eggs can supply your body with the building blocks it needs to form a well-defended immune system.
Strengthening your immune system can protect you from getting sick during cold and flu season as well as make it easier for your body to fight off illness in general.
5. Energy Levels
If you’ve been feeling sluggish while going about your daily routine, try working more eggs into your diet. Eggs are brimming with nutrients that naturally make you feel more energized and keep you fuller longer. In particular, eggs contain plenty of protein, which is considered a complete source of essential amino acids. These essential amino acids will give you more energy to work with throughout the day to avoid feeling burnt out.
Risks of Eating Raw Eggs
Now that you’ve seen the positives of eating raw eggs, it’s time to consider the potential adverse effects. The biggest drawback to consuming raw eggs is the risk of foodborne illness, specifically salmonella. While it may seem like your chances of getting salmonella are low, food poisoning can be a serious sickness and should not be taken lightly.
Read through the salmonella information below before deciding whether consuming raw eggs is worth the risk.
Who Is at Risk of Getting Salmonella?
Anyone who unknowingly consumes an egg contaminated with salmonella can get food poisoning. But certain groups of people are at a higher risk of developing a more severe case of food poisoning or intestinal infections. For some populations, salmonella can lead to serious or even fatal consequences.
Those who are most at risk of a severe illness due to salmonella include:
- Infants and young children: Because babies and young children have immature immune systems, they are more susceptible to infections from salmonella.
- Pregnant women: In rare cases, contracting salmonella can result in premature birth or stillbirth.
- Elderly people: Adults over the age of 65 are more likely to die from a foodborne illness infection. Typically, older adults are at a higher risk of fatality because of age-related changes in the digestive system and malnutrition.
- Immunocompromised individuals: Those with a chronic disease are more vulnerable to life-threatening salmonella infections because their immune systems are weaker. In particular, people with HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or cancer, as well as transplant patients, are at a higher risk.
Anyone who falls into one of the categories listed above should avoid eating raw eggs and foods that contain raw eggs. To minimize the risk of salmonella, make sure the eggs served to young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems are pasteurized whenever possible.
Signs and Symptoms of Salmonella
The symptoms of food poisoning from salmonella usually occur within six hours to six days after being exposed to the harmful bacteria. In most cases, food poisoning symptoms last about four to seven days and people make a full recovery without antibiotics. Paying close attention to the signs of salmonella can help prevent a case of food poisoning from becoming severe.
If your or a family member consumes raw eggs, be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms of salmonella:
- Abdominal cramps
Call your doctor immediately if a case of food poisoning includes any of these symptoms:
- Vomiting for more than two days
- Diarrhea that does not improve after one day
- Signs of dehydration, such as excessive thirst, an extremely dry mouth, dizziness, lightheadedness, little to no urination, or very dark urine
- A fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit
- Bloody stool
How to Prevent Salmonella
Although it’s not possible to totally eliminate the risk of foodborne illness due to consuming raw eggs, there are ways to reduce it. Discover some helpful tips for lowering your chances of encountering salmonella below:
- Buy pasteurized eggs and egg products whenever possible.
- Only purchase eggs kept in the refrigerated food section of the supermarket.
- Keep your eggs refrigerated at home — storing them at room temperature can induce the growth of harmful bacteria more rapidly.
- Store your eggs in their carton inside of the refrigerator, not in the door of the refrigerator, which is the warmest part of any fridge.
- Do not buy, eat, or cook with any eggs that have passed their expiration date.
- Dispose of any dirty or cracked eggs.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water both before and after cooking with raw eggs.
- Bake or cook all raw doughs and batters, such as cookie dough or cake mix, before consuming them — this includes taste-testing.
- Do not allow children to play with or eat raw dough, including dough used for arts and crafts.
- Thoroughly clean up and wash all bowls, utensils, and cooking surfaces after handling raw eggs.
While taking these precautions can help limit the risk of salmonella, one sure way to eliminate the chance of salmonella is to thoroughly cook your eggs.
Use High-Quality Eggs From Sauder Eggs
Ultimately, you can safely consume pasteurized raw eggs, but cooked eggs will deliver more nutrients to your body and taste better. To rest assured knowing you’re getting top-quality, farm-fresh eggs, purchase Sauder Eggs. At Sauder Eggs, we partner directly with farmers to bring you the highest quality eggs possible.
Check out the Sauder Eggs store locator to find the fresh eggs nearest you.