A new study published last week in the Atherosclerosis journal makes the ridiculous claim that eating egg yolks is almost as harmful as smoking cigarettes, thus many people are wondering once again… Are eggs healthy or do they pave the way to disease and lead to an early death?
This study, like many of its predecessors disseminating lies and half truths, is an observational study that relied on people’s memory to gather its information, did not control for a variety of important potential confounding variables and is loaded with conflicts of interest.
As you’ve heard me say before, observational studies do not prove cause and effect, they only form a hypothesis that then should be tested. Even more shocking, the subjects were stroke victims, so we weren’t really starting with a clean slate now were we?
Not only that, they forgot to mention a few other crucial facts, like the egg eaters in their study had a lower BMI and triglycerides than the non-egg eaters, and the subjects with the most of amount of plaque build-up were nearly significantly older than the group with lower levels of plague.
Plague increases naturally as we age. It isn’t plaque alone that causes hardening of arteries, it is when it occurs in conjunction with things like lack of exercise, chronic stress, smoking cigarettes and eating sugar.
Also, once again, this study was looking at eggs produced from hens raised in conventional farming, not organic, free-range eggs. Which, as we’ve discussed previously, are not being fed the proper diet, are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics and thus are not healthy sources of food. Organic, free-range eggs are exempt from these aspects.
In various “real” scientific studies, no significant link has been found between eating eggs and developing heart disease. In fact, eating eggs may even help prevent blood clots, strokes and heart problems. In one study, obese participants on a restricted diet, including regular egg consumption, actually lowered their levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
I’m going to encourage you to take a look at Mark Sisson’s excellent analysis of why this study is so flawed as well as Dr. Mercola’s take on things, and I’m going to head straight to the facts about why eggs are a healthy choice and should be a regular visitor on your weekly menu.
A plate of steak and eggs was a popular breakfast before nutrition experts began encouraging a bowl of cereal with skim milk to start the day. Egg consumption has decreased dramatically, but the number of those diagnosed with heart disease and metabolic syndrome continues to escalate.
Today, the most enlightened physicians, nutritionists and health associations are generally in agreement that eggs are healthy. Whether you like them scrambled for breakfast or hard-boiled in a salad, you can rest assured that in general eggs are good for you and do not lead to an early grave.
Unhealthy Views on Cholesterol and Saturated Fat
Eggs contain a substantial amount of cholesterol, but that is no reason to cut them out of your diet. The idea that cholesterol causes heart disease has never been proven true, yet most people still believe it.
LDL is necessary for a variety of functions throughout the body. Pattern A LDL is fluffy and buoyant, and actually protects you from heart disease. It is essential for a healthy immune system, the balance of stress and sex hormones, and is used for the production of vitamin D.
When pattern A LDL becomes oxidized, it is transformed into small, dense particles called pattern B LDL. There are a variety of factors that transform healthy LDL into oxidized LDL. Chronic Stress, excess sugar, physical inactivity, and smoking are several examples. Eggs do the opposite: they change the oxidized LDL into healthy LDL.
The idea that saturated fat adds fat to your body is a myth. The sugar and cereal grains that are contained in a high-carbohydrate diet elevate insulin levels, promoting the accumulation of fat cells and leading to insulin resistance.
Eggs Contain an Abundance of Nutrients
Eggs are high in protein, fat soluble vitamins, and B vitamins. The average large egg contains around seven grams of protein and about five grams of fat. Fats are necessary for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Just one egg contains all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein food. These are essential for healthy cell development, optimum brain function and a strong immune system. Eggs are also rich in vitamins A, D, E, B2, B6, B9, and minerals calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorous and potassium.
Yolks are a good source of biotin, a B vitamin that promotes healthy hair and nails. Biotin may improve the fasting blood glucose levels of those who have diabetes. Raw egg whites inhibit the absorption of biotin, so when preparing them over easy or sunny side up, be sure to fully cook the whites.
Yolks are also the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, fat soluble antioxidants that support healthy vision, counter age-related macular degeneration, and prevent cataracts. These antioxidants also protect the skin from sun damage and reduce the risks of certain cancers.
They Can Improve Brain Function
One egg yolk contains around 300 micrograms of choline, an essential nutrient that strengthens neural connections, supports brain function and the nervous system. In fact, choline is necessary for all cells to function normally. Studies have proven that eggs can improve our concentration levels and even our memory.
Eggs Are Rich in Vitamin D
They are one of the best sources of naturally occurring vitamin D, containing around 20 percent of our daily-recommended dose. According to studies, vitamin D is vital for a healthy immune system and healthy bones, and it plays a key role in the prevention of cancer. According to the Medical College of Georgia, it is also linked to maintaining a healthy body weight.
They Help Muscle Growth
Eggs contain around seven grams of high quality protein and the essential amino acids needed for optimal muscle recovery. As the body easily absorbs the protein, it makes them one of the best foods for strengthening muscles after a workout.
An Omelet a Day Can Help Keep You Trim
Researchers at a biomedical research center in Louisiana found that people who consumed eggs for breakfast had lower levels of ghrelin (a hormone that stimulates appetite) in their blood three hours later. As a result, they help you feel full for longer, which can lead to more successful weight loss.
Eggs May Help Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
In one study, women who consumed around six eggs per week reduced their risk of breast cancer by 44 percent. Research at the University of Alberta in Canada found that yolks contain tryptophan and tyrosine, amino acids with high antioxidant properties.
A Sulfur Rich Food
The rich sulfur content of eggs helps the process of detoxification by supporting liver function. Apart from benefitting the skin and fingernails, the sulfur may also strengthen hair follicles and stimulate hair growth.
They Are a Great Source of Calcium
Up to 90 percent of the calcium found in eggs can be absorbed into the body. This makes the humble egg a great source of calcium, an essential mineral for the health of our bones.
Eggs are a Rich Source of Lecithin
Egg yolks are a powerhouse of lecithin, another crucial nutrient needed by every cell in the body, but it is particularly important for a healthy brain, nervous system, heart, liver and gallbladder, and assists in the digestion of fats and the prevention of gallstones. The presence of lecithin in eggs reduces the absorption of cholesterol that is also present, so another reason not to worry about the cholesterol content.
Commercially produced eggs are lower in nutrients than cage-free ones. Always choose organic from pasture-raised chickens for better quality and more powerful health benefits.
One Word of Caution
However, there are two groups of people who may potentially have problems with eggs. That consists of people with a sensitivity or intolerance to eggs and people with an autoimmune condition. The egg white is comprised of several anti-nutrients that safeguard the embryo. These substance can be difficult for some individuals to break down and they may bind to nutrients and inhibit absorption, which can become a contributing factor to leaky gut, inflammation and autoimmune disorders.
Additionally, in an evolutionary view, eggs were not available to our ancestors year round, so they were eaten only seasonally. That means we may do well to limit their intake to some degree. Paleo experts like Professor Loren Cordain suggest that we should all limit our egg consumption to about six per week for the aforementioned reasons.
On the other hand, you can just eat the yolks, which is what I do a lot of the time. However, for people with an autoimmune disorder or an egg white sensitivity, the trace amount of white that would be around the egg could potentially trigger symptoms or perpetuate their condition.
So, we can clearly see that eggs are now considered to be one of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. We can actually classify them as a Superfood. Not only that, they are exceptionally versatile and easy on the pocketbook.
Thanks to ongoing scientific research, no one should feel guilty about eating them anymore or ask, why are eggs healthy. And be sure to include the yolk, as that is where most of the nutrients reside and remember they don’t have to be restricted to a breakfast food. Eggs are just as delicious at lunch and dinner.
Some studies have claimed that egg consumption increases the risks of certain diseases, but this research is shaky at best. Eggs are filled with vital nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants that are an excellent part of a healthy diet.
Resources for, are eggs healthy:
Allbritton, Jen. “Eat Your Eggs and Have Your Chickens Too.” Weston A Price Foundation. N.p., 03 Apr. 2009. Web. 16 Aug. 2012.
Kresser, Chris. “Three Eggs a Day Keep the Doctor Away!” Chris Kresser. N.p., 23 May 2008. Web. 16 Aug. 2012.
Naughton, Tom. “More Bad Science? That’s Eggsactly What It Is.” Fat Head. 04 Nov. 2010. Web. 16 Aug. 2012.
“Biotin.” Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Web. 16 Aug. 2012.
Mark’s Daily Apple, Are Eggs Really as Bad for Your Arteries as Cigarettes.
Keep Hunger at Bay with Egg Protein, Says Pennington Biomedical Research Center Study May 11, 2012 http://www.pbrc.edu/news/?ArticleID=147
Ref: Jamo8l:1387-94, Nut Metab Cas 2006; 9.8-12 Journal of Food Chemistry. www NaturalNews.com.
Shannon J, et al. Food and botanical groupings and risk of breast cancer: A case-control study in Shanghai, China. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2005; 14 (1): 81-90.