Egg lovers rejoice! You don’t need to eliminate eggs from your diet.
You’ve probably heard that eggs – in particular egg yolk – are high in cholesterol. If you are a long-time, low-fat, dieter then you might be aware that egg yolk contains all of the fat in an egg where as egg whites are pure protein.
I suspect that many of you have been avoiding eggs because you’ve been concerned getting heart disease and cutting calories by cutting fat. But there’s no need to eliminate eggs from your diet. Let’s clear up the confusion once and for all—so you can enjoy all the nutritional benefits that eggs provide.
History of the Bad Rap on Eggs
A well-known study, The Framingham Heart Study, looked at a large group of people over a long period of time to see what common factors or characteristics contribute to cardiovascular disease.
In 1948 researchers recruited over 5,200 men and women between the ages of 30 and 62 to participate in the study. Participants lived in Framingham, Massachusetts, and every two years for their lifetime went through extensive physical examinations as well as lifestyle interviews.
Over the years, several cardiovascular risk factors were identified in the Framingham Study. One of the risk factors the study identified was that high levels of blood cholesterol seemed to be predictive or associated with heart disease. At the time, the data seemed to correlate high cholesterol with high chances of heart disease.
Before moving ahead with the science, let’s clarify correlation and cause. Some studies find a correlation between two things. In the Framingham study, heart disease seemed to be correlated with high cholesterol levels. The study did not prove that high cholesterol caused heart disease. Keep the clarification between correlation and causation in mind no matter what study is presented to you.
Plaque Is Made of Cholesterol
The plaques that form in arteries are a major factor for risk of heart attack and these plaques are made up largely of cholesterol. Experts in the 1950s made a fairly logical conclusion that the more cholesterol we eat, the more would end up in our arteries – and therefore; we are increasing our chances for a heart attack if we eat cholesterol.
As scientific methods and analysis continue to develop, more recent science have shown that there is more to the story than ‘eat cholesterol and cholesterol ends up clogging your arteries’. In fact, the correlation between dietary consumption of foods that contain cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood is a weak correlation.
For example, you can increase your consumption of cholesterol by 100 percent and you might get a rise of 10 percent in blood cholesterol.
As current medical professionals look back at the Framingham Study, they realized that going back to the late 1970s (when cholesterol in food was demonized publicly) that there was not a single study showing people that ate more cholesterol–specifically eggs–would have a higher risk of heart attack.
In the studies that were done, data showed that people eating eggs DID NOT have a higher risk of heart attack.
The Egg Is a Nutrition Powerhouse
Eggs are a food source high in nutritional value, containing 13 essential vitamins and minerals. One egg has 5 grams of fat and 6 grams of complete protein. Complete protein means that eggs contain all of the essential amino acids. The essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and must be provided by diet.
Satiety is a term used to describe how satisfied you are by the foods consumed. In fact, one study found that when 30 overweight and obese women ate an egg breakfast they consumed significantly fewer calories for lunch than when they ate a bagel-based breakfast. Scientists found that consuming the egg breakfast lowered food intake for 36 hours.
Sugar Causes Plaque Build-up
You might be surprised to learn that the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has identified high-blood sugar and insulin resistance to be two of the factors causing plaque build-up, or atherosclerosis.
Part of a Healthy Breakfast
Experts believe that enjoying eggs is far better for your insulin levels and artery plaque than the non-fat, sugar-laden breakfast cereals and yogurts. Eggs are definitely better than sugary pastries accompanied by sugar-infused coffee drinks.
As always, keep your physician up to speed on what you eat. Work with him or her to keep good test records seeing how the foods you eat affect your personal health markers.
In the meantime, enjoy your whole egg veggie omelet!