The Egg Controversy

The Egg Controversy

For decades, eggs have had a bad reputation in the nutrition world. The story was that were bad for your heart health due to their high cholesterol content. Today, research is pointing a different direction.

What is in eggs, anyway?

One medium egg (44g) has 63 calories, 39 of which are from fat, 4 grams total fat and 1 gram saturated fat. It has 196 milligrams of cholesterol (62% of the Daily Value) and 6 grams of protein. Some eggs are fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids, which give an additional nutritional plus.

Eggs are also a good source of riboflavin, which is important for red cell production and carbohydrate metabolism, vitamin B12, which plays an important role in healthy nervous system function, and phosphorus, which helps form bones and teeth. Additionally, eggs are a very good source of selenium, which helps make proteins and protects you from cell damage.

Why did eggs get a bad reputation?

As you can see from the nutritional facts mentioned above, eggs have over half of the daily value of cholesterol. It is important, however, to have one thing clear. Cholesterol is an important element in the diet, as a precursor to some digestive enzymes and reproductive hormones that are essential for overall health.

However, dietary cholesterol doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol in the blood. Research has found that exercise, genes, stress, and other elements of your lifestyle are better determinants of cholesterol in the blood than dietary cholesterol.

While this research isn’t all that new, the medical community has been slow to change

What does the research say about eggs now?

Some nutritionists call eggs “the perfect food.” Regardless of earlier beliefs, one study found regular egg consumption to be associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and cancer, because of their high antioxidant content. Other studies show that eggs could also help lower blood pressure.

Another reason that eggs are such a good option for the general population is that they are a cheap, low-calorie, low carbohydrate source of high-quality protein. There are very few protein sources that have those same qualities.

For the general, healthy population, even if you eat many eggs every day, it may raise your cholesterol slightly, though not enough to be anything to worry about. For most people, the benefits outweigh the risks.  If you have high cholesterol, it generally is not necessary for you to eliminate eggs from your diet, rather limit your consumption to 4 to 6 eggs weekly. However, it is important to always consult with your doctor about your specific situation.

In summary, a 2006 study published in Current Opinions on Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care stated “We need to acknowledge that diverse, healthy populations experience no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol but, in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by the inclusion of eggs in their regular diet.”

So, are eggs good or bad for you?

Eggs got a bad reputation based on a flawed understanding of how dietary cholesterol works in the body. Most healthy people will not have raised cholesterol as a result of eating a moderate amount of eggs. In reality, studies show that those who eat eggs regularly actually have a lower risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

In general, there is no need to eat just egg whites for breakfast. Eggs, especially organic, free-range eggs, are a very good source of protein and a range of vitamins and minerals that can promote long-term health. You can, however, fully cook your eggs in order to avoid any possible food-borne illnesses that could be in any animal-based food.

If you are worried about your cholesterol levels, however, you should talk to your doctor and nutritionist about the best diet that works for you.

Sources:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/cholesterol/faq-20058468

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/111/2

http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2012/08/should-i-stop-eating-eggs-to-control-cholesterol-diet-myth-4/

 


CATEGORIES: Diet, Health Risks, Research Study, Health Benefits, Eggs, High Cholesterol