For decades, we were told not to eat eggs because “excessive” dietary cholesterol was labeled unhealthy. The scientists thought that there was a causal link between consumption of cholesterol-laden foods and increased risk of heart disease. Turns out multiple researches find this assumption UNTRUE. It shows NO relationship between the amount of cholesterol we eat and the risk of heart disease. Meanwhile, thousand years old Traditional Chinese Medicine has been telling us that eggs are superfood, even a medicinal herb in our classical herbal formula. Chinese Medicine views eggs as containing jing, or reproductive essence that improves vitality, brain function and enhances fertility.
Key TCM concepts about the eggs
In TCM Materia Medica, the eggs documented seperately as the egg white, egg yolk, egg membrane and egg shell. Each of these carries different properties and functions.
The egg yolk, Ji Zi Huang, is neutral in nature while the egg white is slightly cool. Both carries a “sweet” nature which means they nourish the body through relaxation and grounding. Both parts belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for those in deficiency (not enough energy). Yin energy are important for nourishment, particularly the Kidneys and Liver or moisten the Lungs and Stomach. Yin deficiency often show as menopause symptoms, anemia, insomnia, infertility, anxiety depending on which TCM system is the most affected. Extreme Yin Deficiency often seen as a burnout.
Egg white can moisten the lung, relieve sore throat, clear heat and remove toxicity while egg yolk can replenish blood, build the brain and improve the heart-kidney communication which is important for sleep and fertility. The egg membrane has a very poetic name: the phoenix’s cloth. It is used for coughing, connecting bones and healing wounds. Eggshell is used after fine grinding, for relieving stomach acid, drying skin rash and strengthening bones.
Eggs are good for you, especially the yolk!
Numerous studies show that although regular egg consumption has a slight blood cholesterol raising effect, there is no correlation between egg consumption and heart disease risk. On the other hand, the importance of cholesterol is underlooked. In fact, cholesterol is the building block of sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and every other hormone important for fertility. There are also many other nutrients in the eggs that are vital for reproductive system.
From a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) perspective, eggs are one of the best foods to build the Jing, or reproductive essence, as well as the Blood. Both Jing and Blood are essential to reproductive health, and eating eggs is one of the best ways to replenish both. High cholesterol is attributed to Liver and Spleen function disorder. By regulating the Liver and Spleen function using herbs, acupuncture and dietary adjustment, the blood cholesterol will naturally rebalance.
Donald K. Layman, PhD, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, in his team’s review of prior egg studies published in the January/February 2009 issue of the journal, Nutrition Today, concluded that eggs make a significant contribution to muscle strength, energy and power.
Use your senses to connect with the nature
Every food you eat carries the essence of nature’s energy. Eating eggs brings more than just biochemical material to our body, but also the nature’s messages transferred through the hen into the egg.
Since prehistory, eggs have been a valuable source of food that could be found in the wild or domesticated birds. It is a relative lost cost and efficient source of protein. Report suggested that poultry hens on small farms in Australia can be expected to yield four to five eggs a week, or 200 a year, up too around 600 eggs in its lifetime. The chicken brings various benefits to the farm besides from laying eggs. They can also fertilize the soil, loose the surface soil, control weeds and pests. Meanwhile, these activities are good for the quality of their eggs. The micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and omega 3s) vary depending on what chickens eat, and that variation can change the yolk color. Chickens that are free to forage for insects, seeds, grass, and whatever else free-foraging chickens eat, will usually have a yolk that is a darker yellow or even orange color.
Human provide a safe space for the hens, and in return the hens bring a prosperous farm to human, an excellent example of human-nature harmony.
How many eggs are okay?
Just like water consumption, do not limit yourself with a number. Use your senses instead. The eggs are so versitales in cooking, whether boiled, poached, scrambled or fried, it can be part of any meal. Eggs can help you to stay full longer. They are also easy to pack and relative quick to cook. In average, I eat 2 eggs for breakfast for about 4 times per week. To best keep the brain building effect, I usually keep the egg yolk raw or semicooked. Other days I still put eggs in my soups or sources or in my sushi or sandwich.
But what about allergies? Most people digest and accept eggs very well. If you feel unwell after eating eggs, you can consider a more detailed TCM diagnosis and treatment to manage the imbalance, then fully embrace the benefits of eggs.