Eggs are good for you

Scrambled logic

One morning recently, I sat down for an interview with a local radio show. They wanted me to talk about some of the food myths that are still so pervasive in our community–even in NYC where I and all the so-called “sophisticates” live.

You probably won’t be surprised by which myths bug me the most.

One, of course, is the misguided notion that eating as little fat as possible is actually healthy. And another one, way at the top of this list, is the widespread and very mistaken belief that eggs aren’t healthy.

I’ve gotten pretty good at just ignoring all of this anti-egg nonsense. But even so, I’m really hoping that the research I’m about to share will put this tired controversy to bed once and for all.

A new meta-analysis appeared in the British Medical Journal not too long ago. As part of this investigation, researchers reviewed a number of published studies to identify any association between egg consumption and risk of heart disease and stroke.

And the result was exactly what I would have predicted.

They found absolutely no association between egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. In fact, if you ate one egg per day, your chances of developing these two conditions would actually decrease.

The news is especially good for diabetics. Those who had the highest egg consumption had a 25 percent lower risk of stroke… and a whopping 50 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Take that, naysayers.

Honestly, I have no idea why this whole egg myth just won’t go away. Because the fact is, most research to date has delivered results on par with these.

Analysis of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-1994 (NHANES III) responses revealed a strong association between greater egg consumption and lower risk of stroke death among men.

Another Japanese study showed that eating animal products–including eggs–can also cut your odds of dying from stroke.

What’s more, a number of other studies show that egg consumption encourages the formation of larger HDL and LDL cholesterol particles. And scientists think that this could boost protection against atherosclerosis.

Of course, that’s just part of the picture. Replacing the carbs in your diet with protein-rich foods–like eggs–can lower your blood pressure, improve your lipid profile, and cut heart risk.

And higher vitamin D intake–another perk of daily egg consumption–can help to reduce visceral fat around your waist and combat a long list of other cardiovascular risk factors.

Heart disease remains a leading cause of death in the West. And it’s expected to stay that way for at least the next decade. So busting as many heart-related myths as possible is obviously important.

To that end, I’d like to point something else out. Yes, we know that increased LDL cholesterol levels lead to higher incidences of coronary events. But–and I can’t stress this enough–dietary cholesterol only modestly contributes to your blood levels of LDL.

In reality, you’d be wise to worry about not getting enough cholesterol. Because several studies have actually linked lower cholesterol concentrations with a higher risk of stroke.

Again, folks, these are life-saving facts. So pay attention… because you’re not likely to hear the truth elsewhere anytime soon.

In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming no more than 300 mg of cholesterol every day. A single egg provides more than two-thirds of that absurdly low limit–so it’s no surprise they’ve been banished from most “healthy” menus here.

What a loss for the public health.

Eggs are inexpensive. And they’re a low-calorie source of a lot of important nutrients, too–including minerals, protein, and unsaturated fatty acids. They also raise “good” HDL cholesterol, which can help protect against heart disease.

Dietary guidelines in places like Nepal, Thailand, and South Africa–countries that are relatively free from the grip of pharmaceutical companies–reflect these benefits. They recommend consuming eggs every day.

And I do, too.

So just keep these facts in mind the next time you’re beginning to wonder whether you’re on the right path to health. Because there are just as many studies out there–and probably more–that support our way of doing things.

True, no one ever hears about them. But that’s why I’m here.

Now who wants an omelet?

Source: “Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies” BMJ 2013;346:e8539.