Why do researchers love to beat up on eggs? This off-on relationship has been going on for decades, but this newest attack takes the cake.
Canadian researchers at the University of Western Ontario now claim that eating three or more egg yolks per week is as bad for your arteries as smoking. Seriously? Seriously.
Last week, the medical journal Atherosclerosis published "Egg Yolk Consumption and Carotid Plaque," a study led by neurologist J. David Spence. In the study, researchers used ultrasound to measure carotid artery plaque levels in more than 1,200 patients. (Arterial plaque is a buildup on the inner walls of arteries and can reduce or block blood flow, leading to heart attack or stroke.) The patients also filled out questionnaires on their lifestyle, medication use, smoking, and egg yolk consumption.
Are they "eggs-agerating?"
The researcher reportedly found that plaque accumulation increased exponentially as smoking and egg yolk consumption increased. Dr. Spence concluded: "What we have shown is that plaque builds up gradually in the arteries of Canadians, and egg yolks make it build up faster…. In the long haul, egg yolks are not okay for most Canadians."
The media had a field day with Dr. Spence's findings. Sensational headlines equated eggs with cigarettes. And many consumers responded to the news story by swearing off the hen fruit.
Egg yolks, you see, are rich in dreaded cholesterol. So the implication is that the higher your cholesterol levels are, the greater you risk of heart attack and stroke.
But, not so fast, please…
The cholesterol theory of heart disease has been a darling of the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 50 years (ever since their chemists discovered that statin drugs could suppress the liver's production of cholesterol).
Despite reams of research proving cholesterol innocent, Big Pharma continues to rake in billions every year from statin sales. In fact, more prescriptions have been written for this class of drugs than any other in history.
In a stroke of marketing "genius," Big Pharma managed to convince us all that high cholesterol is a kind of disease for which we need drug therapy and a strict, low-cholesterol diet. Doctors have swallowed the cholesterol theory hook, line, and sinker and have been instrumental in selling this idea to the public.
Of course, this completely ignores the value of cholesterol to the health and proper functioning of your body.
For one thing, your body manufacturers your hormones from cholesterol, including the so-called "sex hormones" estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Your nerves use cholesterol as valuable insulation. Your cells depend on it to give structure and strength to their walls. And without cholesterol, your body couldn't synthesize sunlight into vitamin D. Click here to see more benefits of cholesterol.
Your body's cholesterol production isn't some mistake of nature that needs correcting with a prescription or a diet. The fact is, your liver produces 85% of the cholesterol it requires, with the remaining 15% coming from your diet.
You liver also regulates your cholesterol levels. So if you eat a meal that is heavy on the cholesterol, you liver will cut back its production to match your cholesterol "set point."
Far from being a risk factor for heart disease, studies show that people with high cholesterol live the longest (and people with low levels of it get hit with twice as many fatal heart attacks as those with high cholesterol).
A seriously flawed "study"
Dr. Spence is a long-time critic of the egg industry and a hard-core devotee of the cholesterol theory of heart disease. So this news study is hardly novel.
It is also so seriously flawed as true "research" that critics far and wide have jumped all over it, exposing its many weaknesses. One of the better critiques is written by Dr. John Briffa, a UK physician and blogger whom I really enjoy.
If you'd rather I'd just cut to the chase, here it is…
Eggs are one of the most healthful foods you can consume -- provided they come from pasture-raised hens (also labeled "cage-free") whose diets consists mostly of wild grasses and herbs, with a bit of organic grain.
These eggs will be rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can restore the proper balance of anti-inflammatory omega-3s with the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in your body. (Inflammation is the driving force behind virtually all chronic and degenerative diseases, including arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and heart disease.)
Are eggs Nature's perfect food?
I certainly would say so. And I'm not alone in my assessment.
George Mateljan, author of the authoritative tome, The World's Healthiest Foods (if you haven't seen this book yet, I highly recommend it!), makes a strong nutritional case for the "incredible, edible egg" as one of the greatest superfoods of all.
Here are my top 10 reasons for making eggs an important part of your diet…
1. High in protein. One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein (13% of your daily requirements) plus all 9 essential amino acids. Protein is the most important macronutrient and consuming enough is essential for good health. Eggs are the most readily absorbed and utilized protein source in the food supply.
2. Better eyesight. According to one study, an egg a day may prevent macular degeneration due to the carotenoid content, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these "vision nutrients" are more bioavailable from eggs than from other sources. In another study, researchers found that people who eat eggs every day lower their risk of developing cataracts (also because of the lutein and zeaxanthin content).
3. Weight loss. Eggs satisfy your hunger longer - especially compared to carbohydrate foods and this helps you control your hunger and lose weight. In one study, 160 overweight/obese adults were divided into two groups, one of which ate a breakfast including two eggs, while the other consumed a bagel breakfast supplying the same amount of calories and food volume. At the end of 8 weeks, the egg-eaters lost an average of six pounds compared to the bagel-eaters' 3.5 pound loss. The egg group also had an 83% greater decrease in waist circumference.
4. Reduced inflammation. Eggs are rich in choline, a nutrient shown to reduce inflammation. In one study, consuming eggs reduced chronic inflammation by more than 20%, according to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Choline also helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. One egg yolk contains approximately 300 micrograms of choline.
5. Cardiovascular health. Contrary to Dr. Spence's findings, eggs are quite heart-friendly. A Harvard study concluded that there is no significant link between egg consumption and heart disease. In fact, according to another study, regular consumption of eggs seems to help prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks.
6. Better cholesterol profile. Recent research shows that, contrary to previous belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, some studies show that eating eggs can actually improve one's blood lipids (cholesterol) profile-even in persons whose cholesterol levels rise when eating cholesterol-rich foods.
7. Vitamin D. Eggs are one of the very few foods that contain naturally-occurring vitamin D.
8. Cancer protection. Eggs seem to help prevent breast cancer. In one study, women who consumed at least 6 eggs per week lowered their risk of breast cancer by 44%.
9. Prevent blood clots. A study published in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin shows that the proteins in egg yolk inhibit blood clot formation. The more egg yolks eaten, the more clot-preventing action. (Blood clots are a major cause of heart attack and stroke.)
10. Healthy hair and nails. Due to eggs' high sulfur content, many people find their hair and nails growing faster and stronger after adding eggs to their diet -- especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulfur or B12.
What's really behind this new "egg smear?"
Why are Dr. Spence and his colleagues so deliberately down on eggs?
On clue may be found in their disclosure statement:
"Dr Spence and Dr. Davignon have received honoraria and speaker's fees from several pharmaceutical companies manufacturing lipid-lowering drugs, and Dr. Davignon has received support from Pfizer Canada for an annual atherosclerosis symposium; his research has been funded in part by Pfizer Canada, AstraZeneca Canada Inc and Merck Frosst Canada Ltd."
It appears the researchers have a vested, financial interest in keeping cholesterol hysteria alive and well.
I say, let it rest in peace.
The egg's on me…
I make a point of eating eggs about three times a week, usually at breakfast. On these days, I notice that I'm not hungry at lunchtime - and can go without eating until about 4 p.m. (when I have my fresh vegetable juice and supplements on my way to the gym).
We love eggs here at MyHealingKitchen.com and have created a number of egg-based "meals that heal" which you'll find on our website. Here are some of my favorites. [Just click on the links below for the recipes.]
"On the Go" Breakfast Burrito: With school starting and the mornings getting busy, this quickie burrito makes a great breakfast-on-the-go.
Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers: For the weekends when you want to spend a little more time enjoying your meal, take the time to make this leisurely breakfast or brunch. Stratas are great for a light breakfast served alongside a green salad filled with fresh herbs!
Eggs for dessert?
Okay, I admit it. I'm pushing the envelope on this last egg dish. But what's life without a little something sweet every once in a while?
And, hey, it does contain five eggs!
Flourless Chocolate Chili Cake with Strawberry Sauce: Whenever you have a flourless cake, you need eggs to make it sing. Here's a great way to get eggs into your dessert, that's still a little healthy!
What's your opinion of eggs?
Do you love or loathe eggs?
If you like them, what are your favorite ways of enjoying them?
Let's hear your favorite recipes or cooking technique so we all can try it tomorrow. Please share it with everyone here.