Caesar salad dressing, cold souffles, classic chocolate mousse, uncooked meringue and homemade mayonnaise, eggnog and ice cream all share one key ingredient: raw eggs. Although the Japanese commonly eat them with rice for breakfast, the French often serve them with steak tartare, and athletes and bodybuilders sometimes down them by the glass, raw eggs aren’t as readily digested as cooked ones.
One large egg contains about 6 grams of high-quality protein, but the amount you’re able to digest depends on whether or not the egg is cooked. A study published by “The Journal of Nutrition” in 1998 found that just over 90 percent of the protein in cooked eggs is absorbed for use, whereas closer to 50 percent of raw egg protein is absorbed. The study’s authors suggest that cooked eggs are more readily digested because heat alters the structure of protein, giving digestive enzymes better access to the bonds that link amino acids together.
Raw Egg Safety
Eggs are responsible for approximately 142,000 cases of salmonella poisoning each year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Although pasteurization makes eggshells safe, some eggs -- about 1 in 20,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- harbor salmonella inside their shells. Cooking your eggs thoroughly is the only way to fully protect yourself against this bacteria.
- The Journal of Nutrition: Digestibility of Raw and Cooked Egg Protein in Humans as Assessed by Stable Isotope Techniques
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Salmonella Serotype Enteritidis
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Playing It Safe With Eggs
- Wellness Foods A to Z: An Indispensable Guide for Health-Conscious Food Lovers; Sheldon Margen, M.D.