An expert panel reviewing US Dietary Guidelines last week announced that consumers should rethink the egg. For the past 20 years or so, the egg has gotten a bad reputation as far as cholesterol goes. However, the majority of these early studies were so-called observational studies and appear to have been disproven.
In fact, according to Francisco Lopez-Jimenez of the Mayo Clinic, the “risk of heart disease may be more closely tied to the foods that accompany the eggs in a traditional American breakfast — such as the sodium in the bacon, sausages and ham, and the saturated fat or oils with trans fats used to fry the eggs and the hash browns.”
Recently, several studies examined egg consumption vis a’ vis cholesterol levels in people who eat SEVERAL whole eggs daily. Surprisingly, their studies concluded that eggs consistently raised HDL (the “good”) cholesterol. For 70% of people, there was no increase in LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol. There was a mild increase in a benign subtype of LDL in some people. Further data also indicated that egg consumption can in fact reduce the risk of stroke.
Eggs have other beneficial components. They contain large amounts of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that can counteract degeneration processes of the eyes, like cataracts and macular degeneration. Eggs are also very high in Choline, a nutrient in which as many as 90% of Americans may be deficient. Choline is used to build cell membranes and has a role in producing signaling molecules in the brain, along with various other functions.
Scoring high on the “satiety index”, eggs can also help with those watching their waistline. Says Kris Gunnars of AuthorityNutrition, “In one study of 30 overweight women, eating eggs instead of bagels for breakfast increased feelings of fullness and made them automatically eat fewer calories for the next 36 hours.” In another study, replacing a bagel breakfast with an egg breakfast caused significant weight loss over a period of 8 weeks (International Journal of Obesity (2008).
The healthiest eggs are Omega-3 enriched eggs. These eggs are much higher in Omega-3s and important fat-soluble vitamins. The bottom line is, eating eggs is perfectly safe and actually beneficial. The egg was demonized before researchers truly understood the nutritional value of this protein source. Given the incredible range of nutrients and powerful health benefits, eggs can be one of the healthiest additions to one’s breakfast table.
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