Myth: Eggs Are Bad For You

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Eggs are healthy and are a great source of nutrition.  

Raw Eggs in bowl

Raw Eggs in bowl

It’s time to set the story straight on the nutritional benefits of an egg.  Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse and should be one of the staple foods in your diet.  Eggs and in particular egg yolks have been vilified by our government, the health-food industry, and the medical community as causing elevated blood-cholesterol levels and heart disease for decades. Since the 1970s, the recommendation has been to limit egg yolk consumption and so was born the Egg Beaters product like that is primarily egg yolks.  The question is: should you avoid eggs yolks or egg in general?    

Eggs in Skillet

Eggs in Skillet

So why has there been a recommendation to avoid eggs.  We have been brainwashed by the scientific and nutrition community who have based the recommendation on junk science with research that is filled with selection bias.  The basis for the believe that we should avoid cholesterol and saturated fats comes form eh research of a physiologist named Ancel Keys.  This famed physicist developed the K-rations during Wold War II.  He performed a study called the Seven Counties Study.  The study looked at the diets and disease correlations of seven counties.  The problem is that Keys chose the county and specifically creates a selection bias that obtained the results he wanted.  The problem is he failed to take into account sugar intake and trans fats.  The countries with a higher heart disease risk not only had a higher saturated fat intake but also had higher sugar and trans fats intake.  Researchers made the jump that saturated fats were the cause of the higher heart disease.  Further looks have found that saturated fat may not be the single cause of heart disease[1],[2].  

Heart shaped fried eggs

Heart shaped fried eggs

Nothing makes my heart heavy more than a eggs white omelet on a menu because whole eggs are a nearly perfect food.  Egg yolks are one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D and contains 7 grams of high-quality and available protein that our body can readily use.  Whole eggs are also full of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and deliver many of the B vitamins and the nutrient  choline.  When you eat only the egg whites, you’re missing out on all of these nutritional benefits and are getting only half of the protein.  

Sure, a large egg has nearly 200 milligrams of cholesterol, but you body makes more in one day than you can acquire from a diet rich in eggs (1-2 per day).  Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones and

Bunch of Eggs

Bunch of Eggs

for the membranes of new cells.  It is a vital part of our bodies and its nearly all of its processes.  Beyond Cholesterol and protein, eggs also contain choline which is essential for good memory and brain function.  In fact, even the fat is a healthy form of fat and contain CLA[3].    

Are eggs healthy for us? My patients frequently ask me to answer this nutrition question. I have researched this question many time in my career and my answer has changed in the past 5 years.  I will answer this with some research.  

Research on Eggs:

  1.  Cartoon Egg

    Cartoon Egg

    Replacing saturated from eggs with carbohydrates is not the answer.  A group of authors published a review in February 2018 that looked at prior research and meta analysis.  They found that replacing saturated fats with carbohydrates did not reduce the risk of heart disease[4].  

  2. Eggs do not increase heart disease.  A large study from 1999 looked at moderate egg consumption in two large prospective cohort studies with nearly 120,000 people and found that one egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals[5]
  3. A stay published in January of 2018 compared oatmeal to eggs for breakfast.  They could that eggs increased carotenoids and the biomarkers of CHD, when compared to the American Heart Association, love chid oatmeal[6]
  4. Eggs on salad

    Eggs on salad

    Eggs do not cause heart disease.  Previously recommendations associated with heart disease risk as a result of their high cholesterol content. Newer research shows that cholesterol from food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL than previously thought.  In fact, two studies debunk this belief.  One study suggests that we should not generalize saturated fat consumption[7].  Another study confirms that eggs are not associated with a higher risk of heart disease[8].

The bottom line: While eggs may not be the best breakfast choice, they are a good option in moderation with one egg or less per day.  As I have already written, they are great fo weigh loss.  If mixed with plant proteins, eggs can be a healthy part of any diet and they provide much-needed nutrients in a small package. 

References

[1]
R. Chowdhury et al., “Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis.,” Ann Intern Med, vol. 160, no. 6, pp. 398–406, Mar. 2014. [PubMed]
[2]
“Scientists Fix Errors in Controversial Paper About Saturated Fats,” Science | AAAS, 24-Mar-2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/03/scientists-fix-errors-controversial-paper-about-saturated-fats. [Accessed: 12-Mar-2018]
[3]
“Egg Yolk as Means for Providing Essential and Beneficial Fatty Acids,” Journal of the American Oil Chemist’s Society, Jan-2018. [Online]. Available: 10.1002/aocs.12008/full” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aocs.12008/full. [Accessed: 12-Mar-2018]
[4]
M. L. Dreher, “Dietary Patterns and Coronary Heart Disease,” in Dietary Patterns and Whole Plant Foods in Aging and Disease, Humana Press, Cham, 2018, pp. 215–336.
[5]
F. Hu et al., “A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women.,” JAMA, vol. 281, no. 15, pp. 1387–94, Apr. 1999. [PubMed]
[6]
A. Missimer et al., “Compared to an Oatmeal Breakfast, Two Eggs/Day Increased Plasma Carotenoids and Choline without Increasing Trimethyl Amine N-Oxide Concentrations.,” J Am Coll Nutr, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 140–148, Feb. 2018. [PubMed]
[7]
M. Fernandez, “Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations.,” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 8–12, Jan. 2006. [PubMed]
[8]
J. Shin, P. Xun, Y. Nakamura, and K. He, “Egg consumption in relation to risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.,” Am J Clin Nutr, vol. 98, no. 1, pp. 146–59, Jul. 2013. [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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