What’s the Deal with Eggs?
Have you all noticed the recent trend of medical professionals/nutritional scientists overturning the findings of other medical professionals/nutritional scientists? It’s kinda driving me batty. For instance, a few years back “they” all encouraged us to drink a glass of wine a day to ward off heart disease and obesity and to increase our longevity, but now “they” say as little as a glass of wine a day can lead to certain cancers in women. Granted, neither study influenced my wine intake one way or another, but I get peeved when “they” give me such a good justification for my propensity to sip a glass of Pinot with dinner only to yank away my pro-wine-imbibing talking-point willy-nilly, without the least consideration for my feelings on the matter (or the havoc that this news might wreak on my ability to persuade my tea-totaling family members to join me in a toast).
But the wine thing isn’t the controversy I want to hash out with ESers. My concern stems from the GREAT EGG DEBATE. And where better to discuss eggs than ES? I’m really frustrated by the lack of clear answers on the egg question. There are so many conflicting findings floating about the interwebs and in the medical journals that I really don’t know what to believe anymore.
In the 1960s a pretty damning study linked eggs to high cholesterol and all the resultant evils (heart disease, early death, etc). We were advised to restrict our egg consumption to one egg a week. Scientists warned that there are a full 213 mg of cholesterol in one large egg – all of which is contained in that pearly golden ball we call the yolk.
By the time I was a teenager a different study, much lauded by the egg industry, reversed some of the first study’s findings, and promoted the idea that eating up to three eggs a week (eggs in moderation) was actually nutritionally beneficial. Then another study touted the benefits of egg whites, one of the most high protein foods, no fat and no cholesterol. We were told, we would do best to avoid whole eggs entirely and stick to the virtuous egg whites. Eggbeaters made their debut in the grocery stores and the option of egg white omelets became a staple at brunch places nation wide. The 2000s have been peppered with conflicting studies touting and assailing eggs. Last year a study showed that egg whites do not pack the same nutritional punch as yolks, and “they” began recommending the eating of the whole egg yet again. This year the debate is still raging, and while ES has traditionally been a stronghold of the pro-egg lobby, I think it’s time that we have a frank discussion on this blog about the possible benefits and deleterious health effects of constant egg-eating.
Here are some tidbits to get the discussion going:
In May of 2001, Reuters reported on a study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found that the benefits of eggs had been overblown and that limiting egg consumption was still a good idea.
The bottom line, write researchers in the May issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is that people should limit egg consumption to reduce their risk of heart disease. “The advice to limit cholesterol intake by reducing consumption of eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods may…still be valid,” conclude lead author Rianne M. Weggemans and colleagues from Wageningen University in the Netherlands….In addition, the researchers showed that because of the additional cholesterol, consuming one more egg per day would increase the risk of heart attack by about 2%, which on a population level is substantial.
But this February, Canadian and British researchers released a study that (as you can imagine) has given Gansie’s fried egg obsession a new razon d’etre. The Telegraph in a story entitled “Fried eggs could help keep blood-down,” reports that:
Scientists have discovered that eggs produce proteins that mimic the action of blood pressure-lowering drugs. And fried eggs are especially beneficial. Researchers, from the University of Alberta in Canada, showed that when eggs come in contact with stomach enzymes they produce a protein that acts in the same way as prescription only Ace inhibitors….Until just a few years ago the British Heart Foundation advised people to eat no more than three eggs a week. But the British Nutrition Foundation concluded that it is healthy to go to work on an egg.
Well, that seems like a pretty good case for upping egg consumption to an egg a day, right? Hmmm… not so fast.
Diabetics and those prone to diabetes are still discouraged from eating egg yolks at all, and the American Heart Association’s website still promotes the consumption of egg whites over whole eggs. In fact, the America Heart Association recommends:
An egg can fit within heart-healthy guidelines for those [healthy] people only if cholesterol from other sources — such as meats, poultry and dairy products — is limited. For example, eating one egg for breakfast, drinking two cups of coffee with one tablespoon of half-and-half each, lunching on four ounces of lean turkey breast without skin and one tablespoon of mayonnaise, and having a 6-ounce serving of broiled, short loin porterhouse steak for dinner would account for about 510 mg of dietary cholesterol that day — nearly twice the recommended limit. If you’re going to eat an egg every morning, substitute vegetables for some of the meat, or drink your coffee without half-and-half in the example above. And remember that many other foods, especially baked goods, are prepared with eggs — and those eggs count toward your daily cholesterol limit.
Sounds like no eggs and bacon for you BS!
The Harvard School of Public Health confirms that while eggs shouldn’t be vilified as they once were as the source of heart disease in Americans, “new research doesn’t give the green light to daily three-egg omelets.” HSPH further warns, that we “need to pay attention to the “trimmings” that come with your eggs.”
I don’t know folks. It’s all very confusing and unlike my firmly framed (self-serving) beliefs about wine, my feelings about eggs are still in their nascent stages (I didn’t grow up in a BIG EGG household and I only recently was tempted toward real egg eating by Gansie’s glorious pictures of a lusciously plated vermilion tomato being coyly kissed by a canary-yellow, just running yolk).
So, when science fails me I turn to the blogosphere. ES crowd: Before you slurp up that next runny egg yolk, please lend your wisdom to The Great Egg Debate!
Previous Opinions on ES: