First, let me begin by saying, “I like my eggs runny!” I always have. There’s nothing more satisfying that sopping up runny eggs with butter toast or pancakes!
Oh, That “Dreaded” Disease
That said, let me also say this: Salmonella can kill you. However, in the U.S., that rate is pretty low: 450 deaths out of 1.2 million infections (0.04%), nearly all through severe dehydration. But only 30 people die of salmonella from eggs, again, through dehydration.
Furthermore, the prevalence of salmonella in eggs is mighty low: “A study by the USDA in 2002 (Risk Analysis April 2002 22(2):203-18) showed that 1 out of every 30,000 eggs produced annually is contaminated with the pathogen. That’s 2.3 million eggs per year.” Eating two eggs for breakfast every single day gives you an even chance of eating a contaminated egg every 27 years and 5 months.
If you’re one of the “lucky” 99.96% of people who live, you’ll develop diarrhea, abdominal cramps, possibly a fever, and recover within 4-7 days, usually without any other treatment than ensuring you’re drinking plenty of fluids and maintaining your electrolytes i.e. eat food.
To be fair to salmonella, it’s pretty much everywhere. Nearly all animals contain salmonella in their gut, and as researchers have well noted, “The elimination of salmonellae must generally be considered an impossibility.”
To Cook or Not to Cook
Fully cooked eggs are more digestible than raw eggs, with about 91% of the protein available in cooked eggs compared to only 51% in raw eggs. Raw egg protein also interferes with the micronutrient biotin, critical in the metabolism of both fat and sugar.
Alas, cooking eggs reduces or eliminates other nutrients, with the phenomenon increasing the more they’re cooked:
Vit A: 17%-20% reduction
Antioxidants: 6%-18% reduction
On a more positive note for us runny egg yolk eaters, cooking egg yolks creates oxidized cholesterol and oxysterols, which increase the risk of heart disease.
So, if you’re going to cook eggs, they’re healthiest for you when just barely cooked (a little runny is fine). Adding plenty vegetables or veggies and lean meat in a lightly cooked omelet is even better!
Finally, believe it or not, a very small amount of butter is the preferred high heat stable oil, as it tastes great, remains stable at high temperatures so as to not oxidize and form harmful free radicals. But if you’re a glutton for punishment, use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
I’m not going to tell you that runny eggs are safe. I will say follow the references below and reach your own conclusion. In the meantime, whether with pancakes, toast, or even in an omelet, I will always prefer and relish slightly runny eggs!
CNN. (2018). Salmonella fast facts. CNN Library. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/28/health/salmonella-fast-facts/index.html
Murray, C.J. (1991). Salmonella in the environment. Australian Salomonella Reference Library, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science. Retrieved from: http://oie.int/doc/ged/d8193.pdf
Urban, S. (2014). Just how risky are runny eggs? Organic Authority. Retrieved from: http://www.organicauthority.com/just-how-risky-are-runny-eggs/
West, H., RD. (2016). What is the healthiest way to cook and eat eggs? Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eating-healthy-eggs
Wikipedia. (2018). Salmonella. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmonella