USA declares war on eggs

Eggs are in the news again…let me unscramble the myths for you

Oh no…the decades-long debate about eggs has just flared up again. A new study from the USA declares war on eggs due to cholesterol content. However, reading the actual study (which I have!), I’d say this is open to interpretation. Let’s unscramble what the media outlets spew out, and put it in perspective. War on eggs. Really?

Good egg, bad egg

How do you like your eggs? Soft boiled? By all means, that’s a good egg. Fried in oil, with bacon? Unfortunately, that’s a bad egg. Why, you ask? Because of the cholesterol, that’s why. Frying…bacon…it all adds up. However, there’s so much more to it than counting milligrams (mg) of cholesterol in an egg in order to declare war on it. Let’s face it, eggs are one of the most debated foods in our daily diet, and guidelines keep changing. That doesn’t help you, and you feel confused. For this reason, I’m giving you all the key scientific facts. Then we’ll get back to the debate.

Egg facts

  • Eggs contain cholesterol in the yolk only
  • A large egg can contain up to 186 mg of cholesterol in the yolk
  • If you dry-fry an egg (no oil), the cholesterol content is about the same as for boiled, poached or scrambled.
  • Eggs contain vital nutrients: they are a superb source of protein, and have plenty minerals, vitamins and good fatty acids that are essential for vision, brain function and … heart health!
  • Raw, lean Sirloin steak contains around 100 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams. A strip of (uncooked) bacon contains around the same( average 1 mg for every gram)

The birthplace of cholesterol

First of all, your body makes cholesterol. It is a hormone. In fact, it’s the Mother of all Hormones, and essential to human survival. Under stress, the body produces more cholesterol. As a result, that vital, fatty, unwanted molecule helps produce cortisol and adrenaline. We need these hormones to cope with stressful situations. In cave-man speak: These are our fight-or-flight hormones. It’s natural for cholesterol to go up when stress is present. However, the cave folk did not have eggs and bacon for breakfast and perhaps a burger and fries on the way home to the cave. Oh no…they burnt up their cholesterol by utilising the provided hormones to fight or run.

We don’t engage in physical fights anymore. Our stress-cholesterol has nowhere to go. Instead, we add to it by not-so-good food choices at times of stress. Burgers, fries, donuts; those are the foods we go for when we need a ‘stress fix’. Nasty bosses, horrible traffic, too many bills, emails, and grumpy teens…high fat, high sugar is what the body craves at such moments. All high-cholesterol foods.

Back to the egg…

In short, the findings that stood out in this latest research looked at egg consumption over 17 years, and involved around 30.000 people. That’s a good study set-up in itself. Risk factors for heart disease went up in 27% of the group at two eggs per day. However, critics of the study, and even the authors, point out that many other foods are unaccounted for. Red meat, processed meats and high-fat dairy such as butter and whipped cream also have high cholesterol content. In other words, do we declare war on the egg? Not necessarily. Furthermore, according to Harvard and other medical powerhouses, the link between dietary intake of cholesterol, and heart disease is hard to prove. And that’s why the egg debate will rise…and fall…and rise…and fall.

Enjoy your eggs responsibly!

Of course, you’re sensible enough to not eat two eggs daily. Not only that, try something new. Swap bacon for wilted spinach, or grilled mushrooms and tomatoes. Have them scrambled with chives, and use low-fat milk. Poach to top navy beans and a bit of chilli sauce for a high protein, high fibre filling meal. Whatever you do, don’t cut out these healthy gifts of nature, jam-packed with healthy nutrients

For an assessment of your dietary cholesterol intake, why not do a three-day Foodzone? Then you’ll know exactly where you’re at.

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