Last week I had to grab a quick breakfast, so I stopped at Panera Bread. After checking the healthiest options online I determined the Turkey and Egg White Bowl was the healthiest option on the menu (and gluten free!) It was tasty, but lacking one of the most important elements…
The egg yolk!
Are Eggs Bad For You?
Now, you may be thinking that by removing the egg yolk, and thus the cholesterol, or avoiding by eggs completely you are being healthy. The truth is that most common beliefs about eggs have no factual basis and that by avoiding eggs you may be doing more harm than good.
Eggs are a great source of many vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids and contrary to popular belief they do not raise your serum cholesterol levels or increase your risk of heart disease!
Believe me, I understand your fear. I used egg whites exclusively for years. Back when I was competing in fitness that was the norm and the healthy way to lean out. So my phobia started then…
But not anymore and thank goodness, because the whole egg is so much tastier!
Some Interesting Studies on Eggs
Interestingly, the decision to cap intake of cholesterol at 300 mg/day has no scientific backing. It was really just a random decision by a group of people.
I hardly like decisions about my health and what I should be eating being plucked out of thin air!
Additionally, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999 found that there was no evidence of a correlation between egg consumption and heart disease. They actually found that those who ate five to six eggs a week actually had a lower risk of heart disease than those that ate only one!
This is not the only study out there that has similar findings regarding eating cholesterol.
Furthermore, 50-75% of people that have a heart attack don’t even have high cholesterol!
Yes, I find this information rather fascinating as well.
Actually there hasn’t been a single study that showed any sort of significant link between dietary and serum cholesterol or a causative link between cholesterol and actual heart disease!
So why are we being so misinformed?
Large companies love that you are confused about what to eat.
Food manufactures love flawed info that gets you to eat more of their unhealthy foods…For instance, cereal companies love that eggs have an unhealthy reputation. You then buy more cereal instead!
Drug companies want you to be unhealthy so they can sell you drugs, often for conditions that are reversible by diet and exercise!
I know it’s so terribly frustrating. But that’s why it’s important you take matters into your own hand and educate yourself on what’s REALLY healthy and not healthy. Not just blindly follows companies that want your money without regards to your health.
So What’s The Deal With Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is like duct tape. It travels to areas of the body where arterial damage has occurred and tries to patch it up. So when your serum cholesterol level is high it’s a sign that something’s wrong. It’s the symptom, not the cause.
So what’s causing this damage? It’s inflammation, not cholesterol. Inflammation is caused by many factors including:
- Oxidized cholesterol, which can be found in powdered eggs or by overcooking your eggs. So eat the real thing and avoid overcooking.
- Sugar and grains. Avoiding sugar is healthy for many reasons. Grains can also cause inflammation and should be limited.
- Trans fats. These unhealthy fats should be avoided. They are fats made in a lab and very detrimental to your health.
The Truth About Eggs
Cholesterol is actually a necessary part of cell membranes. Our bodies NEED cholesterol to survive. Cholesterol is important for hormone production including adrenaline, cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. It helps balance electrolytes and is essential for brain function and development.
Now our bodies can make cholesterol, but it’s very inefficient process. So by getting dietary cholesterol we’re actually giving our liver a break ad getting other beneficial nutrients as well.
Eggs are actually full of vitamins, antioxidants, carotenoids, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Lecitin helps the body digest fat and cholesterol and is a source of the B vitamin choline.
- Antioxidants glutathione, carotenes, and zeaxanthin that fight cancer and is good for the eyes.
- The vitamin biotin which is essential for healthy hair, skin and nerves.
- Amino acids tryptophan and tyrosin help regulate mood and promote alertness and mental activity.
So eat your eggs, especially your yolks. Don’t restrict them.
If you’re worried about heart disease or stroke then:
- Eat lots of healthy fats, especially Omega-3’s from sources like eggs, fish, and fish oil
- Reduce or eliminate completely highly processed vegetable oils by limiting processed and packaged foods and instead sticking to extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.
- Again, reduce usage of packaged and processed foods!
- Eat out less often as these foods are often loaded with trans fats, processed vegetable oils, and sugar
- Remove trans fats from your diet by watching for “hydrogenated” on the label
- Reduce starch and sugar intake
Not All Eggs Are Created Equal
Lastly, not all eggs are created equal. Opt for organic pastured eggs whenever possible. They are superior to all other types of eggs and contain more nutrients.
To find out more about egg labeling check out my recent post The Real Deal on Egg Labels.
References (Both are excellent books I highly suggest reading!):
- Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life by Nora T. Gedgaudas
- Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck