Is it Safe to Consume Raw Eggs?

Is it Safe to Consume Raw Eggs?

Highlights
  • Raw eggs are known to be linked with the risk of Salmonella
  • However, there is no evidence to prove that raw eggs cause salmonella
  • It is suggested to avoid having them raw as eggs can get easily infected
Eggs have some impressive health credentials. They are full of high-quality protein and are one of the few natural sources of B  and D Vitamins. The yolks are no longer shunned because of their cholesterol content. Macrobiotic Nutritionist Shilpa Arora clears the air by suggesting that most people can eat 1 or 2 eggs with their yolks per day without measurable changes in their blood cholesterol levels. In fact, as compared to egg white, the yolk contains more folate, Vitamin B12 and an important nutrient for the brain called choline. While eggs are very versatile and can be cooked in many ways, raw eggs are often used in dipping sauces, milkshakes, baking batters and even in cocktails. However, the consumption of raw eggs has been a long-standing controversy as they are considered to be unsanitary. Does this mean no cookie dough?

Raw Eggs Versus Cooked Eggs
Like in most of the foods, it has been seen that some nutrients may be diminished on cooking eggs due to the heat applied. On comparing the nutrient value of one large raw egg with one large hard-boiled egg, Department of Agriculture in the United States has found that raw eggs contain 36% more Vitamin D, 23% more choline, 20% more biotin and 10% more zinc. Although it has also been noted that some nutrients like protein become more digestible on cooking eggs - hence there's a constant tug of war between raw foodists and traditional cooks. 

Raw eggs are common in salads dressings or are used to make sauces like the creamy mayonnaise, add depth to drinks like the famous Christmas Eggnog and some may like their eggs half cooked with a runny yolk. The quintessential egg white protein shakes, most athletes and gym enthusiasts swear by, have become quite a thing in the world of fitness. They can be easily blended with juices or milkshakes and egg whites are low in calories and fats making it an excellent post-workout drink that can help you build muscle mass, increase your strength and encourage weight loss. 
 
milkshakes
Raw eggs are commonly used in protein shakes for weight loss

Let's Weigh the Risks

The US Food and Drugs Administration strictly warns against the consumption of raw eggs as it may increase the risk of contracting salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. There is no evidence to prove that raw eggs cause salmonella but as a preventive measure it is often suggested to avoid them. Raw eggs can get easily contaminated (if the hens are not bred under hygienic conditions) with bacteria that can also infect us on consumption. 

According to Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood, "If your eat raw eggs regularly you're putting yourself at  a higher risk of developing food poisoning or Salmonella. Not all eggs are created equal, nor do they have the same nutrition. Therefore, you may never know the level of contamination. The World Health Organisation clearly states that food should be cooked and stored at proper temperatures to ensure safety. Under-cooked food, especially animal products, are the biggest threat to your gut."

She also agrees that your body may not be able to absorb much of the egg's protein when consumed raw which is one of the most important nutrients it contains. More research points out that you may not be able to absorb the biotin from raw eggs as the whites contain avidin, a glycoprotein that bonds with the biotin and impairs its bio-availability to the body. Avidin gets inactivated on applying heat and cooking the eggs.

(Also read: Have You Been Consuming Stale Eggs? Here Are Four Ways to Tell)
raw eggs
Food should be cooked at at least 75 degrees Celsius to kill food poisoning bacteria

Delhi-based Dietitian Dr. Anshul Jai Bharat does not recommend consuming raw eggs too," In case of eggs, you don't know the exact source from where it is coming from and therefore, consuming them raw may lead to bacterial infection. As per most of the food safety authorities all over the world, your food should be cooked thoroughly to kill food poisoning bacteria which means at least at 75 degrees Celsius for the right amount of time."

While in some cases, you may be able to detect whether or not eggs are fit for consumption or if they are stale by inspecting them, in case of Salmonella or any bacterial infection your sense of sight and smell may not really be helpful. These bacteria are invisible to the naked eye. 

Essentially you don't need to fear raw eggs and rule them out by any means but it is good to be cautious especially if you love chugging protein milkshakes or are having them few times a week. To beat the risk, make sure you procure high-quality eggs directly from a local and known farm.
 

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Tags:  Eggs, Raw Eggs
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