I have been telling clients for years not to avoid eggs, even if they are trying to balance cholesterol levels. In fact, I usually recommend they eat them daily in that case! Recently, yet another (flawed) JAMA egg study was publicized across all media warning that the cholesterol in eggs is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and early death. Well which is it?? Are they good or bad for heart health?
According to that study of 30,000 U.S. adults, for each extra half-egg eaten per day, the risk of cardiovascular disease increased 6%, and risk of early death went up 8%. At first glance those numbers can be frightening. However, as with all things, you have to look beyond that first glance to get to the truth. As far as cardiovascular risk goes, those are pretty small numbers when you compare them to smoking, which increases your risk by 200 to 400%, or taking the birth control pill, increasing risk of heart attack by 50 to 80% in some cases. Researchers claim eggs cause cardiovascular disease by raising your cholesterol, but higher egg intake was actually related to lower LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol. So what are we supposed to believe?
Well let’s look just a little more closely at the study itself. It is what is called an observational study. That means researchers observe and examine the eating habits and health outcomes of a population over time, in this case 17 years. The problem with this type of study is two-fold and it all links to a lack of accuracy: people tend to only accurately recall about 50% of what they eat; and even if the data is accurate, there are other factors that make it difficult, if not impossible to identify how one food is affecting health. For example, is the person also eating bread with every meal? That will skew the results.
Also, the questionnaire used to compile these findings was completed at only one point in time over the course of that 17-year study. Their conclusions were based solely on that.
So, it all goes back to my basics. Choose the highest quality, one-ingredient foods you can find and afford, in a form as close to how God created them, and that agree with your particular metabolic makeup. I, for one, am not avoiding eggs. Cholesterol is a vital substance. Even if you don’t eat it, your body is created to produce it. A pasture raised, organic egg may just be the perfect food, providing a complete source of essential and nonessential amino acids, healthy fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals essential for promoting a well-functioning immune system.
My advice when you hear or read these types of study results is first take a deep breath and relax, then dig a bit deeper and find out how the study was done and if you should really make any changes based on it.
What do you think about these types of sensational headlines that demonize a particular food?
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