One day health experts said eggs were unhealthy and will give you a heart attack. Now they’re calling eggs superfoods that have nothing to do with unhealthy cholesterol levels.
What started all of the controversy? Cholesterol! The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you limit your cholesterol intake to 300 mg a day. One egg has about 185 mg of cholesterol. 2 eggs and you’ve gone over your cholesterol limit for the day.
But is it true that eating eggs and other animal fats sends your cholesterol levels into the stratosphere?
Most new studies say NO. The chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Steve Nissen says, “Only 15% of circulating cholesterol in the blood comes from what you eat. The other 85% comes from the liver. So if you go on a diet, you're not changing your cholesterol very much." Other studies show that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with overall cholesterol levels. Your liver creates about 75 percent of your body's cholesterol. The rest comes from the foods you eat. But much of the cholesterol that’s found in food can’t be absorbed by our bodies. For example, if you eat a lot of cholesterol-filled foods, your body produces less cholesterol. If you eat less cholesterol-filled foods, your body makes more if it. In other words, your body balances out the amount of cholesterol in the blood just like your thermostat controls the heat in your house. A study at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut said, “Dietary recommendations aimed at restricting egg consumption should not be generalized to include all individuals. We need to acknowledge that diverse healthy populations experience no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol but, in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by the inclusion of eggs in their regular diet.” The study said those with diabetes and hypercholesterolemia may want to avoid too much cholesterol in their diets—but more studies need to be done on those groups and cholesterol as well. The LDL and HDL levels of those with diabetes and hypercholesterolemia both slightly increased after eating a high-cholesterol diet. But it did not affect the ratio of LDL to HDL or increase the risk of heart disease.
Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition stated that dietary cholesterol is not related to coronary heart disease incidence or mortality across or within populations.
In controlled studies where participants ate up to 4 eggs a day and reduced their carbohydrate intake, they lost weight, decreased inflammation and either maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels. That’s from consuming over 500 mg of cholesterol every day, just from eggs!
Although they’ve been demonized for decades, eggs are incredibly good for you. They’re nutritional powerhouses that include:
-Iron, which carries oxygen to the cells, helps prevent anemia.
-Vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy skin and eye tissue; assists in night vision
-Vitamin D, which strengthens bones and teeth; may help protect against certain cancers and auto-immune diseases
-Vitamin E, an antioxidant that plays a role in maintaining good health and preventing disease
-Vitamin B12, which helps protect against heart disease
-Folate, which helps produce and maintain new cells; helps prevent a type of anemia, helps protect against serious birth defects if taken prior to pregnancy and during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
-Protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles, organs, skin, hair and other body tissues; needed to produce hormones, enzymes and antibodies; the protein in eggs is easily absorbed by the body.
-Selenium, which works with vitamin E to act as an antioxidant to help prevent the breakdown of body tissues.
-Lutein and zeaxanthin, which maintain good vision; may help reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
-Choline, which plays a strong role in brain development and function. Studies show that 90 percent of Americans don’t get enough choline, which can lead to insomnia, fatigue, poor kidney function and memory problems.
So embrace the yolk—unless you’re diabetic of suffer from hypercholesterolemia--and don’t worry about having a heart attack from eating what may be rightly called nature’s true superfood.