Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
15 Feb

Dear Mark: Raw Eggs

raw eggA glassful of raw eggs incites mixed reactions for many of us. It’s routine for some and revulsion for others. Commonly associated with bodybuilders and boxers (the Rocky scene) who want to bulk up, a lot of folks who fit neither category include them on a regular basis for simple nutritional reasons. However, there’s more to the picture, as this reader’s email suggests.

Dear Mark,

I have searched the site to see if there is any pros/cons of eating raw eggs. I know in the past, CW says that eating raw eggs can create a biotin deficiency in our bodies. I like having a couple of raw eggs in my whey protein drink after a workout. Do you have any information that would be helpful in the use of raw eggs?

Eggs in general are a nutritional (and wholly Primal!) powerhouse with impressive supplies of selenium, iodine, phosphorus, molybdenum, choline, lutein, vitamins A, B2, B5, B12, E, D and K. Add to this a healthy 5.5 grams of protein, 20% of your RDA for tryptophan and essential fatty acids. But what’s the specific draw to raw eggs?

A lot of folks choose to eat raw eggs because some nutrients can be diminished by heating. (Although this is true of cooking just about anything, cooking also makes certain nutrients more bioavailable – hence the constant pull and push between the raw foodists and traditional cooks.) Some people feel any change in the chemical structure is to be avoided. Others don’t. Although some vitamins (like vitamins C, B6 and B9) are more fragile and lose potency during heating (the more/longer heat, the more loss), other nutrients are enhanced. As reader Tuscoyote noted in the forum a few months ago, researchers have found that egg protein is more bioavailable when heated. (Thanks for the NPR link, Tuscoyote!) Here’s the study referenced in that interview. The study showed that egg protein is more digestible (94% versus 55-64%) when heated, probably due to alteration of the protein’s structure and the ability of digestive enzymes to infiltrate peptide bonds. Whether you eat your eggs heated or raw (or a little of both) in part depends on your goal in eating them to begin with.

As for drawbacks, there’s the well-circulated salmonella risk, which isn’t the dire prospect it’s often made out to be. The risk has been estimated as 1 in 10,000 (CDC) or 1 in 30,000 (Risk Analysis journal). And though washing eggshells can reduce much of the risk, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. Salmonella can be present in the yolk due to infection in the hen’s reproductive tissue.

Of course, not all eggs are created equal when it comes to salmonella or nutrition. Not only are organic, free range eggs more nutrient-dense, one study found them to be significantly less contaminated than battery cage hens. Hens that graze and eat a natural diet as well as have more space to roam (to avoid living in feces) are naturally healthier. While the survey determined a quarter of battery cage groups to be contaminated, only 5% of those that were both organic and free range showed contamination. (Free-range, non-organic came up at 6.5%.) Simple refrigeration can keep any salmonella bacteria from multiplying, which minimizes the risk of actual illness from contaminated eggs. In those who are very young, pregnant or immune-compromised, salmonella risk is more of a consideration.

As you mention, eating raw eggs carries the eventual risk of a biotin deficiency. Although egg yolk is actually a rich source of biotin, the white contains avidin, a glycoprotein that bonds with biotin, preventing the nutrient’s absorption. Avidin is generally inactivated when cooked, which makes the biotin in the yolk fully available for absorption by the body. You don’t have to rule out raw eggs by any means. I wouldn’t advise eating them daily for long stretches of time without a biotin supplement (supported within a B-complex intake, since these vitamins work synergistically). If you’re eating them just a few times a week, the risk for deficiency isn’t as great, but I would still do a supplement or at least make sure I was getting a hefty amount of biotin rich food (swiss chard, tomatoes, carrots, liver and others) the days I eat raw eggs. As a compromise, some folks will just eat the raw yolks alone and cook up the whites later.

All that said, raw eggs can be part of your Primal fare. (There are advantages to cooked eggs, but it’s however you enjoy them.) If you like raw eggs, I’d say have at it – with the above info in mind. If you would rather cook them, I’d suggest going easy on the heat to avoid overcooking. Some folks suggest choosing cooking methods that leave the egg yolk intact and soft (like sunny side up or poached) because of concerns about oxidizing the cholesterol. I’m not too concerned about the small amount that might result from my breakfast routine. For myself, I take a middle road (mostly for taste). Sometimes I do my omelets, but just as often these days I’ll poach them so the egg white is cooked and yolk runny. Just had two for breakfast in fact.

Let me know your take on raw versus runny versus fully cooked. For those who go raw or not, how do you eat them? Thanks for all your questions and comments, and keep ‘em coming!

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. I drink raw eggs that are blended up in a blender once a week, I believe that it is good for protien, but i also eat something such as fruit like berries with the eggs because they are high in biotin. I believe that the key is to eat fruits and/or berries with eggs because they are high in biotin.

    Mike G wrote on February 9th, 2014
  2. On the idea of “allergies,” my understanding of allergies is that ANY protein that makes it through the stomach without being broken down in to amino acids SHOULD be attacked by the immune system. That may be an “over-simplified” idea though. (That is from Dr. Jerry Tennant who says that most people have a deficiency of stmoach acid which is the source of ALL of their food allergies.)

    Can providing nutrition trigger a beneficial detox- even rather harsh? Then, because of the sudden activation of the immune system due to the nourishment, some people may panic and say there is an allergy to that food source.

    To me, the entire realm of what is called allergies is a realm of paranoia (and paranoid delusion). Further, the way that most people relate to diagnostic labels is what I call demon worship. The basic idea is that demons possess an organism (my anemia is causing me to have low iron levels, my arthritis is causing my joints to be inflammed, my baldness is causing hair loss, my cancer is causing tumors).

    For more, see

    JR Fibonacci wrote on February 13th, 2014
  3. Is there much of a difference if I drink only the yolk? I like to make egg white omelets and don’t want to waste the yolk. Is it terrible if I just drink the yolk? Should I mix it with something else before drinking?

    Boxer wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  4. Love raw eggs!
    Love raw milk!
    Never ever ever use a microwave or consume
    microwaved food…and won’t have one in my house!



    Jahn Laster wrote on April 3rd, 2014
  5. I usually eat my eggs cooked sunny side up with the yolk left liquid.

    But after workouts I gulp down 4 or 5 RAW.
    I dont know I do feel that they work great raw post triaining

    Ironthumb wrote on April 12th, 2014
  6. Careful, I eat eggs every day for breakfast. Have since I was a kid. When I started doing raw eggs, I started getting hives, rashes, and speckles all over the place.

    Turns out a lot of us are allergic to eggs in their raw form, even though we can handle them just fine in cooked form.

    Scott wrote on May 20th, 2014
  7. Hi,
    My morning meal for the past 30+ years has been frozen strawberries , frozen banana slices , 1raw egg , 1 envelope of Carnation chocolate Breakfast Essential , 1.5 scoops of protein whey powder in a blender with 1% milk. Never had a salmonella problem. Also consume my share of hard boiled eggs each week.

    Bob Ott wrote on May 23rd, 2014
  8. How about hard boiled eggs? Does anyone know if hard boiled eggs are healthy?

    Johnny wrote on June 4th, 2014
  9. I eat raw egg with freshly cooked rice with a tea spoon of soy sauce, lots of Japanese people eat this in the morning
    Eating raw egg gives me a lot of energy and wake up in the morning feeling good

    Kei wrote on June 21st, 2014
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    Jamison wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  11. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It really
    useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you
    helped me.

    Abbey wrote on July 2nd, 2014
  12. Interesting article I just read on Albumin which may be a longevity factor for Whales, Apes, humans and other long lived mammals. However, only the albumin that is made by the body (liver) may work-the other kind the body seemingly destroys; although for burn victims (skin seems to have a lot of albumin in it) use of albumin seems to help in the short term.
    Have decided I will start eating the whites-though ultra-lightly cooked, I eat my yolks practically raw (with a few drops of homemade Lugol’s Iodine-used to toss the whites and just eat the yolks. What they hay, eh?
    Here is the site for the curious: do not be off put by the name: tongue in cheek I suspect ~
    The fingernail cleaning bit kind of interesting. Yea paranoia.
    Namaste and care

    mhikl wrote on July 28th, 2014
  13. Some raw egg ideas …

    0. Raw eggs on their own taste rather bland. So ……

    1. Cold raw eggs: once in a while, if there is just a bit of salsa left in the fridge, I pour it into a bowl, then pop two raw eggs. Since the salsa is already hot and spicy, I do not have to add anything further. However, if I want to make it more filling, I add a bit of sour cream. If I want to make it even hotter and spicier, I add a bit of curry powder or Tabasco sauce.

    2. Half-cooked: if I have a batch of bone or chicken broth, I sometimes pop a couple of raw eggs into a bowl. Although the broth is hot, once it is inside the bowl, it is no longer being heated, resulting in eggs that stay mostly uncooked. (Only a portion of the egg white becomes cooked, the rest remains raw.)

    Debit wrote on July 29th, 2014
  14. I love riding my bike. I go mountain biking in bike trails once or twice a week for 22 miles and i will be 63 in 2 1/2 months. An hr before i go out i have: a shake with milk and pnut butter 2 raw eggs and uncooked oatmeal and a banana. It is not heavy and i feel great. Raw eggs are only eaten one or twice a week. Is that cool !?!?

    Henry wrote on August 18th, 2014
  15. My dad has a free range chicken farm and I seem to mix up 2 raw eggs in my smoothies all the time. It helps me in my workout as well as giving me the strength to get through the day.

    Michael wrote on September 16th, 2014
  16. just asking, would someone or anyone know if eating hard boiled eggs then drink orange juice can be harmful? i have my co worker and an acquaintance who happen to eat just that and after a while they started vomiting and has lbm too…its like food poisoning..

    arlen wrote on October 2nd, 2014
  17. problem with studies cited is that its raw egg Whites.. Nothing about raw whole eggs or raw egg Whites with other food. When eating Nothing else then the Whites the enzymes to digest it isnt released

    walter wrote on November 1st, 2014
  18. Can I take a row yellow egg with whey protein shake gold standard.

    ajay wrote on January 6th, 2015
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  20. Hey all, would it be safe to assume that separating and consuming the egg yolks raw, (however you’d prefer) would keep the biotin, vitamins, good cholesterol and fatty acids available, while scrambling/frying the whites would nullify the avidin and make the protein more available? although it’s a little more work of separating the yolk and making 2 dishes instead of one, you can keep the whites in a pint jar in the fridge (which’s what I do) and/or separate a dozen eggs in advance and use as you please… Any thoughts?

    Evan wrote on March 11th, 2015
  21. When I received this unit I tested the water with the enclosed kit and also purchased a ph test kit. It tested out at >8.5. So I believe it is doing what it is supposed to be doing.

    water ionizer wrote on July 22nd, 2015
  22. My breakfast is cooked scrambled egg whites and a glass of raw egg yolks. I find raw egg whites unappealing but love them cooked, and vice versa with the yolks. It feels natural and tastes great.

    Paul wrote on November 12th, 2015

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