Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Enjoying eggs without uncertainty




Not many foods have flip flopped between being "good" and "bad" for your health as much as eggs have. Pick any two decades and you will likely find opposing opinions. It has been hard for many people to (needlessly) cut out eggs after a heart attack or a scolding from their doctor. Eggs are so convenient & easy to prepare, they have a relatively long shelf life and are cheap.

One of the main points against eating eggs is the amount of cholesterol found in the yolk. A decade ago it was thought that if one could eat less cholesterol (dietary cholesterol) then cholesterol in the blood (endogenous cholesterol) would also decrease. Through research, we have since discovered that these two types of cholesterol are not so closely linked. Even when people eliminate cholesterol from their diet, their blood levels of the fat do not drop as radically.

With further experimentation, it was found that saturated and trans fats (the bad fats) have a greater influence on serum cholesterol levels. Eggs may contain small amounts of saturated fat but no where near the amounts some processed foods (or high fat dairy and meat products) contain. This means that many people are not focusing on eating less of the foods that will actually make an impact on their risk for heart disease. It also tends to lead to less restraint with other "bad" foods- if I am avoiding eggs, I can allow myself to indulge in these pastries/cookies/frozen meal/etc.

In order for a food to be considered low in bad fat (saturated and trans) it should have a DV of under 10%. One easy number to remember that combines both bad fats. You will always find it under the total amount of fat, on the right hand side of the nutrition facts table.

Hopefully the year 2010 will start a new trend: eggs, in moderation, do not contribute to high cholesterol levels. What is moderation? 3 yolks per week if you already have heart disease or high cholesterol. If you do not, for now the research suggests that an egg a day is ok.
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