Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cracking the Myths on Eggs and Cholesterol

For many years we’ve been told to avoid eggs if we want to keep our cholesterol levels under control. Since eggs contain cholesterol they must increase cholesterol levels in the blood, right?

Since research did not exist at the time this recommendation was made, committees were formed from the American Heart Association, American Dietetics Association and so forth to come up with guidelines for healthy eating. One of the guidelines stated that American should limit their eggs to 3 per week.

Since that time solid research is now available that dispelled the myth of needing to limit eggs. Following are excerpts from my upcoming nutrition book: A Recipe for Life by the Doctor's Dietitian explaining the current studies.

Myth: Eating eggs in your diet will increase your blood cholesterol levels.

Fact: Dr. Stephen B. Kritchevsky from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging states in his 2004 review on eggs:

“Data from free-living populations show that egg consumption is not associated with higher cholesterol levels. Furthermore, as a whole, the epidemiological literature does not support the data that egg consumption is a risk for coronary disease.”

Very few studies exist linking any connection between cholesterol levels in the diet and cholesterol levels in the blood. When the guidelines were made up by the various health boards recommending a limit to cholesterol levels, it was based more on common sense than on research. It does make sense that if a food contains cholesterol, it must increase the blood cholesterol value. However, this analogy never really panned out.

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and most of the fat contained in the egg is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. It is an excellent source of the antioxidant lutein which can lower certain inflammatory responses in the body. Eating an egg daily or 2 eggs several times a week easily fits in with a healthy lifestyle and is even beneficial. If you are diabetic it might be prudent to limit your intake to less than 7 eggs per week, taking into consideration all the studies on eggs. So don’t be afraid of eggs, or limit yourself to egg whites. Enjoy an omelet and get on with life.

Dr. Bruce Griffin, a researcher from the University of Surrey stated in Nutrition Bulletin in February 2009:

The link between egg consumption and raised cholesterol levels, which ultimately could lead to cardiovascular disease, was based on out-of-date information. The egg is a nutrient-dense food, a valuable source of high quality protein and essential nutrients that is not high in saturated fat or energy…it is high time we dispelled the mythology surrounding eggs and heart disease and restored them to their rightful place on our menus where they can make a valuable contribution to healthy balanced diets.

We’ve now cracked the myth of eggs and cholesterol.

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