Stop Beating Up on Eggs

Like most of you, I’ve been told, preached to, and warned about the dangers of eggs for as long as I can remember paying attention to what food I put into my body. Unfortunately, it appears that much of the information I had been given was not entirely accurate and maybe eggs weren’t the heart attack or stroke waiting to happen that they were made out to be.  As with most things there are two sides to every story so wanted to at least provide an update to what nutrition experts have posted in one of the most recent studies.

Some of the experts interviewed included registered dietitians Brigitte Zeitlin, Ryan Maciel, who provide data that might contradict what you have been told over the years. Zeitlin stated that “eggs are very healthy, with 13 essential vitamins and minerals, plus they are a good source of high-quality protein, which is what our bodies use to build and maintain strong, healthy muscles”. Moreover one large egg has about 6 grams of protein and only 72 calories according to the USDA nutrition database. Consider that the next time you make a protein shake prior to a workout. Eggs are also rich in nutrients including biotin (which helps you convert food into usable energy), choline (an essential micronutrient involved in metabolism, among other functions), vitamin A (important for the immune system) and lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants that help protect your body from free radicals).

Now one of the biggest myths about eggs is that you shouldn’t eat the yolks and just the egg whites. I mean how many times have you been out with friends for lunch/brunch and listen to them order an egg white omelet but never asked them why they aren’t eating the yolks? How many do you think could provide an explanation that wasn’t regurgitated from something they had heard from a source they couldn’t name?  The truth is for years, yolks had a negative reputation because of their dietary cholesterol, which experts warned was damaging for health. One large egg contains 186 mg cholesterol; the recommended daily value for cholesterol is less than 300 mg. However according to Dietician Ryan Maciel, “current research shows that for most people, dietary cholesterol may not significantly affect the cholesterol levels in your blood”. Also, “the nutrition of egg whites begins and ends with protein and some B vitamins, which is why many experts encourage eating the whole egg”.

Lastly, the elephant in the room is cholesterol. However attitudes regarding the correlation between eggs and high ‘bad cholesterol” levels has been highly rebuked for close to three years now. According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, dietary cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern when it comes to raising a person’s blood cholesterol. “Risk factors that are more likely related to heart disease risk include genetics, lack of exercise and lifestyle choices like smoking and alcohol consumption,” Zeitlin says.

In fact, recent research found that people who ate about one egg a day had lower rates of  heart disease and stroke, possibly because of eggs’ high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which can help fight fat buildup in blood vessels. Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also found that eating one egg a day wasn’t a problem for people who were at greater risk for heart and cholesterol problems.

Of course, you should always consult with your doctor or physician any time you make a major change in your health, fitness, or diet but just remember some of this data the next time you find yourself making diet decisions based on sources that may be outdated. And don’t beat up on Humpty and his friends too much, they’re doing the best they can.

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