The world’s oldest woman on record just celebrated her 117th birthday on November 29th, 2016, and she has more than a few secrets — including the regular consumption of at least one controversial food that some say is way too “cholesterol rich” to be considered healthy.
Emma Morano was born in 1899 and is considered to be the last person alive who was born in the 1800s (not taking into the account people who have no birthday records or are living off-grid). Morano, who has outlived her seven siblings, believes her longevity is due to three things: her genes that helped all her siblings to live past 90, choosing solitude over staying in an abusive marriage, and one unique dietary secret — her heavy consumption of eggs, specifically raw eggs.
Morano ate very few vegetables and fruits in her life, instead she adapted an unusual diet of three eggs every day, two raw and one cooked, after a doctor diagnosed her with anemia more than 90 years ago, reported BBC.
“Emma has always eaten very few vegetables, very little fruit. When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning and then an omelette at noon, and chicken at dinner,” said her doctor Carlo Bava.
These days Morano has cut that number down to two eggs daily.
Watch what Morano’s doctor talk about her health:
While without other healthy habits, the biggest reason for her long life is most likely to her genes that protect her from having any serious illnesses throughout her whole life, aside from bronchitis, consuming eggs has seemingly provided her with the nutrition she needed without requiring variety of foods.
While eggs used to be considered an unhealthy food in the past due to cholesterol concerns, recent studies have shown that a healthy person can eat at least one egg every day and be completely healthy. At the same time, raw eggs have been consumed for centuries for their health benefits and are slowly coming back as a health food due to their wide nutritional profile.
New Studies Show: Eggs Are Good for You
Eggs used to be on the restricted list with very few recommended in the health diet. Recently that has been disproven, and the new guidelines allow one egg every day, seven eggs per week, and an unlimited number of egg whites.
One of the recent studies from Finland found that consuming one egg a day, even for people with a predisposition to heart disease, does not increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Some doctors believe that the allowed number of eggs should be even higher.
The health benefits of eggs are many; they are excellent for overall well-being, heart health, eye health, brain health, skin health, and longevity, according to holistic nutrition specialist Dr. Josh Axe.
Eggs contain such a high quality source of protein that the World Health Organization uses then to evaluate other protein-rich foods. Protein helps the body keep itself in the best shape possible.
They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce risk of heart disease and regulate cholesterol. Omega-3s are especially lacking in the standard American diet, which is what makes egg consumption such a benefit for many people — especially when choosing pastured or organic eggs.
In addition, eggs contain carotenoids, nutrients that may help people live longer and have fewer chronic diseases. These may be partly responsible for Morano’s long life.
Carotenoids are also great for eye and skin health. The two carotenoids that are beneficial for the eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin. They protect from glaucoma and macular degeneration.
The nutritional composition of one large hard-boiled egg is the following:
Cholesterol: 186 mg
Selenium: 15.4 mcg
Riboflavin: 0.3 mg
Vitamin D: 44 IU
Vitamin B12: 0.6 mg
Phosphorous: 86 mg
Vitamin A: 293 IU
Folate: 22 mcg
Pastured or Free-Range Eggs Are Better
Not every egg is the same, as the health of each eggs is directly affected by the health of the chicken. Pastured (the top choice for nutrition) or free-range chickens are healthier, and they lay eggs that have higher nutritional values (see this article to learn about what each carton claim actually means). That’s because they’re allowed to forage for insects, worms, and other natural foods that change the composition of the eggs they lay.
A pastured or free range egg contains less cholesterol and saturated fat, but more vitamins A and E, more omega-3s, and more beta-carotene, according to a report by Mother Earth News.
Are Raw Eggs Healthy or Safe?
Raw eggs have been consumed by people for centuries and have only recently became a controversial subject.
The supporters of raw eggs believe that when cooked, an egg loses a lot of its nutrients. Others find the nutritional content to be about the same, but argue that it is easier for the body to digest raw nutrients.
The part that concerns many when it comes to consuming raw eggs is the risk of bacteria such as salmonella, but are these concerns justified?
Salmonella is becoming less common and right now only an estimated 0.012% of eggs is contaminated. Even if an egg is contaminated, often the bacteria has no chance to grow or spread. And it is highly unlikely to make you sick, especially if your body has a healthy amount of good bacteria in the intestinal system.
People who consume raw eggs are often highly health-conscious and have properly functioning bodies that take care of bacteria if it happens to be injected with the contaminated food.
The situation is not the same for people with weak immune systems.
For people who are generally healthy, the risk of salmonella poisoning is relatively small and to make it even smaller it is recommended to consume only pastured or free-range eggs.
Chickens that are not free range carry more disease as they are not able to move or groom themselves, often standing in manure infested with not-so-good bacteria.
On the other hand free-range chickens have the room to roam and clean themselves, and their eggs are 98% less likely to carry bacteria such as salmonella.
However, many large factories throw the word “cage-free” around yet keep the chickens in the same horrible conditions. It is best to buy eggs from local farmers whom you can ask directly about the conditions in which the chickens live.
The risk is still there, but salmonella can be found not only in eggs, but also in fruits and vegetables and exposure incidents are generally rare. In the end, it is up to you to weight pros and cons and see which food is worth the small risk.
In Emma’s case, the benefits have clearly outweighed any potential (however minuscule) risks.