Are eggs bad for you?

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Greg Maurer

Demonizing eggs seems to occur on a regular cycle. So what is the deal with eggs and are egg yolks bad for people? 

To answer this question lets take a look at cholesterol since it is the bad actor that everyone tends to blame for blocking arteries and causing heart attacks and stroke. Almost all of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver, and in fact the most popular cholesterol lowering medications work by decreasing your body’s production of cholesterol in the liver.

Even if you eat NO cholesterol, your body will make it because you cannot survive without it!  In addition, for most people your dietary intake of cholesterol has little to no effect on your circulating levels of cholesterol, and this includes egg yolks!

As previously reported by NPR:

“[E]ating cholesterol can raise levels of it in the blood, but, as a growing body of research has shown, not by that much. Consuming sugar, trans fats or excessive saturated fat (from unhealthy sources) can be more harmful to cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself.

Most of the cholesterol in our bodies we make ourselves in the liver, and total body levels are heavily influenced by genetics, gender and age. As more and more research suggests that some degree of cholesterol consumption is harmless, if not healthy, the egg’s reputation is gradually returning.”

In 2015, dietary cholesterol (and egg restriction) was finally eliminated from the U.S. dietary guidelines, and the controversy appeared to have settled. However, there always seems to be another study urging people to avoid eggs, linking egg consumption and dietary cholesterol to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.”

An Example of a Flawed Egg Study

A study, published in the journal JAMA on March 19, 2019, analyzed data from 29,615 American adults pooled from six prospective cohort studies with a median follow-up of 17.5 years, and claims to have found a dose-dependent relationship between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality.

According to lead researcher Wenze Zhong, Ph.D., the results suggest there’s no safe amount of egg consumption, and the team believes the results should be taken into consideration when the U.S. dietary guidelines are updated.

Big Problems with this Egg Study

A careful review shows that are the multiple major flaws in this study.

According to Stuart Phillips,  Ph.D., director of the McMaster Centre for Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Research — the amount of risk, that is reported in the study is trivial because the actual change in risk is insignificant. For example they quote a relative risk increase which is very deceiving. The study quotes a relative risk increase of 17%. However, the absolute risk (which is all that counts!) paints a very different picture and equates to 17 versus 15 coronary events (2 events total) per 1,000 person years. Needless to say this difference is meaningless.

It is also important to note that their data is based on individual’s memory of what they ate which has been proven over and over again to be very inaccurate.

Andrew Mente, Ph.D., principal investigator for the Epidemiology Program at the Population Health Research Institute, pointed out another problem with the data from this study:

“The primary hypothesis here is that eggs increase your bad cholesterol, and the more you eat, the worse it gets. But buried way down in the appendix is a note that they found higher egg intake is related to a reduction in LDL, your bad cholesterol. So, what’s driving the association in this research? It seems like there’s a contradiction with the findings.”

Several Studies Have Confirmed Eggs Are Good for Your Heart

There have been several large meta-analyses that have completely refuted the claim that egg consumption raises your risk for CVD.

Choline – A Critical Nutrient Found in Egg Yolks

Another common misconception is that egg yolks are bad. In fact, the yolks contain all the micronutrients (egg whites are an outstanding source of highly bioavailable protein but almost no micronutrients).

In addition to cholesterol egg yolks contain several key micronutrients. For example, yolks contain vitamins A, D, E and K along with omega-3 fatty acids.  Egg yolks also contain more beneficial folate and vitamin B12. The yolks also contain far more of the nutrient choline than the whites, and all of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which are critical for eye health.

Choline is an essential nutrient that you MUST consume in order to produce Acetylcholine which is a primary neurotransmitter. Don’t get enough and you cannot produce enough Acetylcholine and that is NOT a place you want to go!

Acetylcholine is key for brain, nerve and muscle function as well as being essential for the liver.    Egg Yolks are by far the best food source of choline!

So do not be so fast to throw out your eggs – a highly nutritious, high protein food that is easy on your budget!

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