Why It’s OK to Eat Whole Eggs Again

For decades we have been advised to limit our consumption of foods high in cholesterol, such as red meat, dairy products and eggs. It is the egg yolk that is rich in cholesterol, while the white contains only protein and no cholesterol or fat. Hence, egg-white choices on breakfast menus have become commonplace.

Cholesterol is not a demon. We need cholesterol for building a variety of essential hormones, including the sex hormones. All the cholesterol the body needs, however, is produced by the liver. Scientists held until recently that the cholesterol in animal foods, which are high in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the “bad cholesterol”, ends up accumulating in the lining of the arteries. Once the LDL hardens, it becomes dangerous plaque, which can break away and cause a stroke or heart attack.

Bad Fats Not High-Cholesterol Foods to Blame

The new understanding about cholesterol in food, based on recent research, is that in most people (about 70%), it does not raise the LDL cholesterol level in the body. Rather, it is the ingestion of certain types of fat that increases the level. The most serious culprit is trans-fat. Trans-fat is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Food makers put vegetable oil through a chemical process to solidify the liquid oil for use in food products. Trans-fats are commonly found in packaged, processed foods, such as cookies and crackers—and in margarine. The FDA is banning trans-fats, but unfortunately not until 2018. Until then look for the words “partially hydrogenated” on food labels and avoid those products.

Saturated fat found in animal products has to date also been shown to increase LDL cholesterol. However, a new analysis of 12 studies with a total of 300,000 participants, published in the prestigious BMJ (British Medical Journal), found no association between intake of saturated fat and the risks of heart disease, stroke, premature death and type 2 diabetes. In contrast, people who ate trans-fat were about 30% more likely to die during the study and 20% more likely to develop heart disease.

Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption—up to one a day (seven/week)—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet, according to Harvard’s Nutrition Source.

Eggs: Wonderland of Quality Nutrients

Eggs are known as a nutrient-rich food because they contain a variety of health-promoting components. Everything the embryo of a chicken needs to develop is in the egg. The white or albumen forms around the yolk, whether or not fertilized. Its purpose is to protect the yolk and provide additional nutrition for the embryo. Egg white is about 90% water with the remainder being three types of protein—albumins, mucoproteins and globulins, containing all the essential amino acids (complete protein) we require.

The yolk is abundant with a variety of vitamins and minerals, including significant amounts of vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12 and E, as well as the important minerals, phosphorous, calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium and zinc. The yolk contains vitamin D, one of the few foods that do. It also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration.

The yolk of a Large Grade A egg contains slightly less than half of the protein and about 185 mg of cholesterol. The yolk also contains all of the fat, but only about 27% of the fat is saturated. One Large Grade A has 70 calories, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.

Egg yolks are also a great source of choline, an important nutrient we hear little about. However, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), in 2003-2004, 90% of the population is deficient in choline. Inadequate choline consumption increases the risk for heart disease, mental illness and osteoporosis. One
Large Grade A egg contains about 150 mg of choline, 30% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

The nutritional quality of eggs is dependent on the laying hen’s diet. For example, feeding hens a diet containing polyunsaturated fats and kelp meal results in eggs that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that has been shown to have many beneficial health effects. In contrast, hens that are raised in cages may be given steroids, antibiotics and GMO feed. If available, buy eggs that are EFA-enhanced or free-range. Then, enjoy eating whole eggs again!

Learn more? Order Surviving the U.S. Health System: Insurance, Providers, Well Care, Sick Care at http://surviveushealthsystem.com/books-store/and peruse the blog archives.