The debate on eggs has been going on since the 1960s, at least, and so far, nothing seems to have changed. One week, they’re OK, and the next, they’re not. So what is the truth? Are eggs good for you, or not?
I tried to use the most recent information available, but even that was an exercise in futility. I am referring to the latest ‘study’ done by Dr. J. David Spence1. . The ‘study’ purports to find that eating egg yolks is as bad for your heart as smoking. Really? It prompted me to investigate a little further. Dr. J. David Spence is a professor of neurology at the Western University Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, Ont. Neurology? Not Cardiology, or Nutrition? Dr. Spence has blamed cholesterol for almost all of societies ills. It wouldn’t surprise me if he blamed cholesterol for the JFK Assassination, and UFOs. He has an agenda. That was my first ‘Red Flag’. Granted, Jenkins and Davignon are both Nutritionists (and rabid vegans), but not one Cardiologist in the whole study? After reading the entire paper, it became apparent that this was no scientific study at all. There were no Control Groups, no Double-Blind procedures, no control over variables…nothing that would qualify it as any kind of a scientific study. This is not how science is done. All the good doctor did was have 1252 patients (all smokers) that already had serious plaque issues, fill out a questionnaire that asked them how many eggs they eat per week. That’s it. All Dr. Spence’s conclusions came from that, a half-baked survey that didn’t even have the controls they use on an NBC telephone survey. Of course, the ‘study’ has been blasted by everyone in the scientific community, and the journal Atherosclerosis is probably wishing they hadn’t published it. Whatever credibility Dr. Spence had is now history in the scientific community. It is a shame really, because he had a pretty good career up to now. At any rate, the study is pure garbage and not worth the paper it was printed on.
OK. Back to the real world. How can we find out if eggs are good for you?. To start with, we have to establish that we are talking about a normal, healthy individual. People with chronic health issues may have to have special diets, which may preclude the consumption of eggs. We’re not going to address those, because that is a separate issue. We’re talking about average people.
Even a cursory examination of the history of the viewpoints on eggs shows that there are a lot of myths, and misconceptions floating around that have no basis in fact, whatsoever. We can start by establishing the fact that eggs have been a normal part of the human diet long before we were even human, or there were birds we would recognize as chickens. We know from archeological evidence that Australopithecus, Homo Habilis, Neanderthals, and Cro-Magnons all were quite accomplished nest-robbers. At some point, someone figured out it would be easier to domesticate their favorite egg-birds, instead of going out and robbing them, and the egg and poultry industry was born. Saying eggs are bad for you is like saying that gazelles are bad for lions to eat, or bananas are bad for chimpanzees. It’s just plain silly. So, now we can examine the popular attitudes, and put them in context:
Myth One: Eating just the whites is healthier than the whole egg.-False. Eggs whites contain little nutrition, mostly just a little protein. And the whites contain most of the sodium, so you’re not really doing yourself any favors this way. The yolk contains a lot of nutrients you can’t get anywhere else, such as the amino acid leucene, pure gold for body-builders because it triggers muscle growth, and fat-burning. It has been proven in countless studies that eating whole eggs results in significant weight-loss for people who are battling obesity. Egg yolks also contain choline, vital for healthy cell membranes, and brain-function.
Myth Two: Eggs are high in cholesterol.-Neither true nor false. Eggs do contain cholesterol, but not necessarily large amounts. And studies have shown that eating cholesterol does not make your cholesterol levels go up. High cholesterol is caused by a number of factors including genetic propensity, sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and more. The fact is that you need a certain amount of cholesterol for your body to function correctly. It is a normal part of the human diet.
Myth Three: Eggs will make you fat.-False. One egg has just 70 calories. And these calories are beautifully balanced, with 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of unsaturated fat (the kind your body is supposed to have). 5 grams isn’t much for something with that much nutrition, and only 70 calories. And the protein in eggs causes a release of glucogen, a hormone that makes your body burn it’s own fat stores. From a nutritional standpoint, eggs are a powerhouse. Let’s compare this to another stand-by diet…..well, something that resembles food…rice cakes. Two rice cakes also have just 70 calories, but no protein or fat. What they do have is 14 grams of fat-cell cramming, high glycemic carbohydrates. You tell me…which one do you think does more good for your body?
Myth Four: Raw eggs have more nutrients.-False. First off, raw eggs are just nasty. Why would anyone want to eat them this way? Eggs cook at such a low temperature that no nutrients are damaged, at all. In fact, two of them; lutein, and zeaxanthan, are actually enhanced by cooking. On the bad side, raw eggs contain advin, an organic compound that blocks absorption of the vital nutrient biotin. Cooking renders advin chemically inert. Also, raw eggs greatly increase your chances of salmonella poisoning. Even mild cooking makes eggs perfectly safe. If you have ever seen anyone with salmonella poisoning (or had it yourself), you’ll realize real quick that it isn’t a lot of fun. Why in the world would anyone want to risk that when it is unnecessary, and so easy to prevent?
Myth Five: Fresh farm eggs from a local farm are better for you than store-bought eggs.-False. I enjoy getting my eggs from my local poultry farm, mostly because we socialize a lot in the process. But the eggs from the local farmer are most likely the same eggs you are buying in the store. All eggs come from farms, and chickens. And for the most part, they are all raised the same way.
Myth Six: Eggs from ‘Free-Range’ chickens are better than regular eggs. False. In fact, free-range chicken eggs are likely to contain less Omega-3 oils than those from chickens fed with high-quality feed. The difference is very marginal though, because you can pick up the extra Omega-3 oils by using olive oil, eating some fish, using fish oil, and a lot of other sources, so it’s really not much of a problem. If the idea is appealing to you that your eggs came from chickens that were allowed to run around and chase bugs, dig in the dirt, and all the other things loose chickens like to do, then buy all means, buy the eggs you like, and enjoy them.
So, after all this study, it turns out that not only are eggs good for you, but they are also one of the least processed, most consistent foods you can buy. This is not to say that you can eat a dozen of them every meal, and not have some issues. Too much of anything, even water, is not a good thing. You have to use a little common-sense. The bottom-line is that there is no reason not to enjoy eggs when you want them, unless you have a health-issue that would preclude doing so. Treat yourself to a nice 2-egg Spinach Omelet once in a while. They are eggcellent……(sorry, I couldn’t resist…).
1. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque: J. David Spence, David J.A. Jenkins, Jean Davignon : Atherosclerosis-Volume 224, Issue 2, Pages 469-473, October 2012)