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A few years ago, my heart stopped functioning properly. A cardiac artery was blocked, and I felt some strange and scary symptoms. The blockage was relieved with a stent, and the hospital that installed it included a detailed lecture to all such patients. They don't want to see us again. Heeding that information has kept me healthy, and I want to share what I've learned.
I used to sell eggs at Ithaca Farmers' Market. Every market day, I had to give some ignorant but well meaning person the Egg Talk. These earnest folks had been misinformed by misinformed doctors and other health professionals and writers. As in politics, if you repeat an untruth long enough, such as the voter fraud “problem,” it becomes popular truth. In the Egg Talk, I tried to counter the 'truth' that you shouldn't eat eggs because they're loaded with cholesterol. It was an uphill battle, but years later, it looks as if the facts are making headway.

Saying don't eat eggs because they contain cholesterol is like saying don't eat whole grains because they contain fattening carbs. Just as the fiber content in whole grains vastly reduces the effect of the carbs,  the lecithin in eggs yolks almost cancels out the effect of the cholesterol by preventing its absorption.

The word lecithin comes from the Greek word for egg yolk, one of the richest sources of this wonderful emulsifier. Lecithin has a lot of uses in the food industry, and in, say, chocolate, it binds to the saturated fats and keeps them from separating and settling. In your gut, lecithin, in the form of choline, a powerful brain food, keeps the saturated fat molecules from settling in your arteries so you can pass them harmlessly through your system.

One egg yolk contains about 126 milligrams of choline. The recommended daily intake is around 500. I eat four to six eggs a day, and my lipid levels impress my cardiologist. In fact, the lecithin in eggs actually absorbs LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, and raises HDL.

Yes, this begs the question, Why did atherosclerosis almost kill me. I grew up eating home grown eggs but unaware that my huge intake of beef, pork, butter, bacon, cheese, and ice cream would bring my paternal genes home to roost. Not to mention that I smoked pipes and cigars for 40 years. My dad's brother, his father, and his grandfather all died of heart attacks. With my stent and reformed ways, I've broken with tradition.

In addition to choline, eggs also supply the other B vitamins B1, B12, riboflavin, and folate. These actually help prevent heart disease. Eggs are high in antioxidants, which lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, not to mention lower your blood pressure.

Even the sulphur that you might notice, especially while making deviled eggs, helps with vitamin B absorption and the production of collagen and keratin, for good hair and skin.

But wait, there's more, as they say. The yolks supply lutein and zeaxanthin (also found in kale and spinach), which helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Not only that, but the fat in yolks helps you absorb the lutein and zeaxanthin that's in greens.

And sure, what about the protein? Egg protein's nearly ideal mixture of amino acids makes it that much easier to absorb. But going for protein by ordering an egg white omelet will be bad for the heart if it has a fatty filling containing bacon and/or cheese. And you have buttered toast on the side. And you're missing all that good stuff in the yolks. I fry my eggs in olive oil, boil them, or scramble them with low-fat cottage cheese.

You'd be right to suspect that all eggs are not created equal. They're all good for you, but the best come from the hens that live most naturally. This may sound like hippie BS, but it's true. Around here, the best eggs you can buy probably come from the People's Market, where supplies fluctuate with the seasons. The chickens are truly free range but fenced backyard flocks that eat grass, bugs, and kitchen scraps, not just chicken feed. The next step down would be commercial organic eggs, free range or not. Commercial use of the words “free range” doesn't mean much more than saying “natural.”

After that, look for the words 'cage free.'  Caged chickens are stressed chickens, and that affects the eggs and the meat, which eventually ends up in canned soup. Consider Eggland's Best eggs, which, in spite of the hype, actually deliver what they promise. The brand was started with the help of Lansing's own late Dr. Robert Baker. Baker helped design a chicken diet including flax seed to raise the omega-6 content of the eggs.

The ultimate eggs and meat come from chickens in your own yard. On line, you can find plans and ready made shelters for just a handful of birds. If ordinances allow, you can have all the eggs you want from maybe five chickens, and give up very little space. Feed costs are very low, because the chickens will convert all your prep scraps and leftovers to instant fertilizer. Email me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., if you want some hand holding for such a project. I have a lot of experience.

Please direct comments and questions for this series to me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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