You’ve probably heard about bodybuilders who regularly consume protein shakes laced with raw eggs, but what you might not know is that regularly consuming raw eggs can be bad for your health. The fact of the matter is that eggs can contain a whole host of substances that should really be cooked before being consumed.
Update: Due to the emails and the comments this article received I felt like I needed to make an update. I wrote this article to warn people about the possibility of salmonella in eggs. But as the article clearly states you only have a 1 in 30,000 chance for an egg to contain the salmonella bacteria. And even if an egg contains salmonella, there’s a smaller chance you will actually get sick from that. So people who eat raw eggs regularly and find nothing wrong with it absolutely have a point; the chance you will catch salmonella is too small to worry about for them. However, some people are picky and find 100% safety important! I just wanted to be 100% correct so people know what they are eating. Hope this helps!
So why do people eat raw eggs in the first place? Well, there’s a lot of misinformation floating around saying that raw eggs are higher in protein than cooked eggs. Some health gurus have even suggested that cooking the eggs breaks down the proteins into unusable pieces, so eating the eggs raw provides a better burst of nutrients for your body. That’s simply not true. The fact is that the regular cooking temperature of your stove isn’t hot enough to denature a protein, so whatever you put into the pan is what you get back out of it.
Unfortunately, when you choose to eat raw eggs (which is not recommended), you are subjecting your body to many different food borne illnesses. Salmonella is a particular problem with uncooked or undercooked poultry and when you consume raw eggs you are just begging to get sick. Salmonella causes food poisoning, the effects of which can be quite bad in certain populations such as people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and children.
Salmonella is usually found in the yolk of the egg, so cooking it in a way that leaves the yolk runny will not kill the bacteria. To be truly safe, you need to thoroughly cook all of the egg, not just the whites. Poaching, hard boiling (the most often used method and described in our how to hard boil eggs page) or scrambling are all good ways to ensure the egg gets thoroughly cooked.
If you just can’t bring yourself to quit indulging in the creamy yellow centers, you can at least rest a little easier knowing that salmonella is only found in about 1 out of 30,000 eggs, and even if it contains salmonella, there’s a small chance you will actually get sick. However, there is no way to tell whether your egg is safe or not without putting it through scientific testing or eating it and seeing what happens. For most healthy adults, salmonella isn’t a big problem. However, children and other susceptible groups should practice caution and consume well-cooked eggs.
Weigh the risks and benefits of eating raw eggs before you decide if it’s a path you want to take. Most people find that they don’t miss the raw eggs in their diet and prefer their eggs cooked. Experiment a little bit with your egg recipes and you’re sure to find something you like that’s less risky than eating your eggs raw.