Showing posts with label research on eggs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label research on eggs. Show all posts

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eggs–Good for You or Bad for You? Get the Facts!

Some recent research contradicts long held assumptions that eggs are not good for you. Are eggs the new health food or the shortcut to elevated cholesterol and heart disease?

Why we were told for years that eggs are bad for you

In the latter part of the 20th century, scientists and health experts told us that eggs were bad for us because their yolks contain lots of dietary cholesterol and, therefore, will elevate our cholesterol level if we eat them.
The assumption held firm for decades, convincing generations that eating eggs could elevate our cholesterol levels to dangerous levels, and specifically elevate the LDLs — low-density lipoproteins. If true, then eggs could  definitely put our arteries at risk and increase the likelihood of ending up with heart disease.
But was that a correct assumption?

The new research on eggs and health

Here’s one of the facts that threw the risk theory into a tailspin; eggs are a big part of the Japanese diet, with some estimates showing that they eat on average nearly one a day per person. And yet, why then do the Japanese have lower cholesterol and lower heart disease rates than we have here in the U.S.? The leading theory today is that the standard Japanese diet is lower in saturated fat that the standard American diet. 
In other words, the eggs are not to blame for our relatively higher cholesterol and heart disease problems.
More on what the research on eggs and health shows:
  • One study showed that, if there is health risk in egg consumption, it's for those who are already at risk for heart disease.
  • This study and this one showed that a diet with up to an egg a day does not increase your risk of heart disease.
  • As this report highlights, the risk with egg consumption has more to do with how we generally eat eggs.  For example, do you eat scrambled eggs all by themselves, or with cheese and sausages and a side of home fries and buttered white toast? Most of the foods we pair our eggs with are high in saturated fat and calories.  Thus, the meal as a whole raises bad cholesterol levels far more than the eggs themselves could ever do.
What about research that doesn’t line up with the rest of the data? In some cases, the quality of the data is in question. Such is the case in a 2012 Canadian study that described the heart health risk of eggs as being almost as bad as smoking; experts looking at the study were quick to point out the study’s myriad flaws.

The health benefits of eggs

Most modern research shows that the health benefits of eggs far outweigh the risks for most people:
  • The egg is a top-notch dietary source for Vitamin D – one of the few in fact. Vitamin D benefits your bones and teeth, improves calcium absorption.
  • Eggs are a low-calorie food, averaging less than 80 calories each, while its protein content makes it satisfying.
  • The eggs is a whole food, containing complete nutrients that you’d be hard pressed to get from any other food source.
  • Eggs are an excellent and natural source of protein, with a good combination of amino acids, which makes the eggs’ protein easy to absorb and assimilate into the body.
  • Have you heard of choline? Choline is essential for fetal brain development and is also believed to be valuable in adult brain health too.  The egg yolk provides you with lots of choline!
  • Eggs also contain two important phytochemicals – lutein and zeaxanthin – that are excellent for eye health, preventing diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Looking for a natural source of the vitamin B12? The egg’s got it! Or what about riboflavin, also known as B2, which helps produce energy in cells? you’ll find that in both egg whites and egg yolks.

Risks of eggs in your diet

While the best science suggests that eggs have a lot more benefits than risks for most of, heed these cautions:
  • The research mostly confirms that an egg a day is safe, but do not assume that a 3-egg omelet daily would be safe.  Egg yolks still contain cholesterol and will make minute influences in your cholesterol level, so three could be problematic.
  • If you have a history of problems with your total and LDL cholesterol levels, health experts advise restraint in consuming egg yolks.
  • If you have diabetes, egg yolks are also best used minimally, as this study confirmed.
  • Safe handling and storage is important. check out the CDC’s article on how to reduce your risk of salmonella from eggs.
And a final thought on eggs and your health: Pay a little extra for free-range eggs if you want a much healthier egg, according to a Mother Earth News egg testing project. It showed that free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs, containing less cholesterol and saturated fat while delivering more vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta carotene.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer