Yolks on us: The confusing nature of eggs

Eating Well: A column by Paul Webster
Posted 6/18/19

Time Magazine recently published an article titled “Are Eggs Healthy?” You may end up more confused about eggs after reading that article, so I thought I would share what I know about eggs. In …

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Yolks on us: The confusing nature of eggs

Posted

Time Magazine recently published an article titled “Are Eggs Healthy?” You may end up more confused about eggs after reading that article, so I thought I would share what I know about eggs.

In culinary school, I learned that eggs are a “perfect protein” and the base of many dishes ranging from mayonnaise to quiche and baked goods. During my nutrition studies, I learned that eggs are a “complete protein” with several beneficial vitamins and minerals.

However, my continuing studies of nutrition tell a different story.

High blood cholesterol is a marker for heart disease. Egg yolks are the number one source of dietary cholesterol in the American diet. Some studies show that dietary intake of cholesterol has no impact on heart disease, but these studies compare a diet already high in cholesterol with a diet even higher in cholesterol.

One study, sponsored by the American Egg Board, compared the effects of blood cholesterol between a diet high in eggs and an egg-free diet of sausage and cheese. The results of this study showed no detrimental effects of consuming eggs, even though the sausage and cheese diet contained similar amounts of fat and cholesterol.

This would be similar to a study comparing one brand of cigarettes against another brand of cigarettes, showing that there are no health effects of smoking.

Choline connection

At one point, the egg industry wanted to promote the benefits of choline in eggs. Choline is an essential nutrient that is needed in small amounts to aid in metabolism.

Excess choline creates a product called Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) in our gut, which increases the possibility of heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. Choline is prominent in cancer cells, so it is believed that excess choline may exacerbate cancer growth.

When you look at the results of non-industry funded studies on egg consumption over the past 30 years, it is clear that egg consumption increases the risk for cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

Cracking a nutritional puzzle

Eggs are a source of protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for health; however, there are plant foods that are healthier options.

One-half cup of chickpeas contains more protein and a broader range of vitamins and minerals than a large egg.

Egg yolks provide lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids beneficial for eye health, but yellow corn provides more lutein and zeaxanthin than egg yolks. Chickpeas and corn also contain fiber, while eggs do not, and fiber is deficient in the diet of most Americans.

There has been a great deal of research done on egg consumption, and it is important to understand the truth behind the science. If you cannot give up eggs, I recommend using only egg whites in your cooking, but the best option is to eliminate eggs completely and move toward a plant-based diet.

For baking, you can substitute one tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with two tablespoons of water for each egg in your recipe. Chickpea flour is also a great substitute for eggs, and researching other options is easy on the Internet.

Paul Webster is certified in Holistic Nutrition, Weight Management, Sports Nutrition and Training. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. Questions and comments can be sent to Info@ServingHealthy.com

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