Source: Collective Evolution
As someone who has been very interested in health for a number of years, and who has tried many different types of diets, I've always been confused as to whether eggs are healthy – or not. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information surrounding eggs, so it's time we at least try and get to the bottom of this. On the one hand, eggs are loaded with essential omega 3 fatty acids and protein, but on the other, they are extremely high in LDL – the "bad" type of cholesterol, which is well known to be not very good for the heart and arteries.
Many people believe that eating free-range, pasture raised organic eggs are healthy, and that buying conventional eggs from hens in battery cages fed a diet including hormones and antibiotics are unhealthy, but as it turns out, neither of these are ideal. Of course, if you are going to be eating eggs regardless of this information, the type of egg mentioned first is obviously the superior choice of the two, but it certainly doesn't mean it has less cholesterol and potential health risks.
Some Research To Back This Up
In 2011, the U.S. government published the Dietary Guidelines for America and included eggs in the "foods to reduce" category. Eating up to one egg a day, which includes those that are found in breads and other baked goods, was considered to be acceptable for healthy people, but for patients with pre-existing heart problems or diabetes, the recommendation was to have less than 0.4 ounces a day – about a quarter of an egg.
That certainly doesn't seem too good for those with health issues, but even healthy folks, who eats just one egg a day? Usually it's minimum 2 – and that's just breakfast. Imagine scrambling one quarter of an egg, or making a quarter egg omelet!
In October of 2012, a team of medical researchers that were led by the creator of the glycemic index, Dr. David Jenkins, decided to decode the healthy or not mystery surrounding eggs. They used ultrasound technology and examined the amount of plaque found in the carotid arteries in the neck in over 1,000 subjects. It was found that those patients who ate more than 3 eggs per week had increased plaque compared to those who ate two or less per week – even after other risk factors such as smoking were included.
In January of 2013, researchers from China looked at 17 studies on eggs and their relation to health. They found no overall relationship between egg consumption and heart disease. Although, among those people with diabetes, whose egg consumption was the highest, they had 1.5 times the risk of heart disease compared to those who ate the fewest eggs.
A few years ago, research from the Cleveland Clinic made headlines around the world. It all began with a report that red meat contains carnitine, which can be converted into a chemical in the blood known as TMAO. Previous research has shown TMAO may help the formation of plaque within the arteries, leading to heart attack, stroke, or even death. However, in order to convert the carnitine from red meat into TMAO, bacteria in the gut needed to be present. Omnivores were the only ones who created the TMAO; the vegans that were studied did not because the bacteria living in their bowels was different.
Later on, more data was released from the Cleveland Clinic group focusing specifically on the effects of eating two hard-boiled eggs. Eggs are a rich source of choline, a nutrient in the B-complex family. Choline has many roles in health maintenance, which include making cell membranes, supporting low levels of homocysteine, and as a precursor for acetycholine in the nervous system.
In this study, however, eating two hard-boiled eggs led to an increase in levels of TMAO in the blood within just minutes – the same reaction that happens after eating red meat. Again, this was found to be dependent on the intestinal bacteria of the average omnivore.
Eventually, they looked at over 4,000 patients who had had a heart catherization, and the higher the level of TMAO, the greater the chance of heart attack, stroke, or even death after a 3-year follow up.
So, What's The Verdict? Should We Eat Eggs Or Not?
If you are unaware of how the egg industry works it may be a good idea to read the following article: 21 Things The Egg Industry Does Not Want You To See. I will warn you, this is a bit graphic, but if you are on the fence about eating eggs or not, I highly suggest reading it.
There's also a little part of me that feels because they are pushed so heavily by the mainstream as a healthfood, with no particular branding usually, that we should be skeptical.
If the way eggs are currently produced isn't enough reason to eliminate them out of your diet, maybe the aforementioned research is. Or perhaps depending on your consumption level of eggs, you may want to consider just cutting back. Like most things, keeping it in moderation is probably a good idea. It may not be wise to have two or three eggs for breakfast every morning and then loads of breads and baked goods throughout the day. Have eggs as a treat on the weekends, or once in a while if you are going to have them. Your heart will thank you!