We’ve all heard different things about eggs: don’t eat the yolk, eat them once a day, or don’t eat them at all. Harvie de Baron of the Baron Method takes us through the history of eggs and cracks open the truth.
I’m sure you’ve heard it all: Eggs are good, eggs are bad, just eat the whites, chuck out the yolks, blah-blah-blah. But, what exactly is the premise behind each argument?
The Ancel Keys experiment
In the 1950s-1960s, a Physiologist from Minnesota conducted an experiment to supposedly see how saturated fats affected blood cholesterol levels and risks of coronary disease. This is when the supposed link between consumption of eggs and an increase in blood cholesterol was established. The link was established simply because eggs are rich in saturated fats. However, in the study, Keys used artificially created saturated fats such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are not just saturated fats but also contains trans fats. We all know by now that trans fats are the culprit of elevated blood cholesterol which leads to coronary diseases.
What are in eggs anyway?
While it is true that eggs are rich in saturated fats, saturated fats from animal sources can be quite good for your health. We have seen people consistently throwing out egg yolks believing that it is so high in cholesterol, fearing heart disease, when the truth is the yolk contains the best stuff. Egg yolks contain vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as omega-3 fats. These are things you won’t get from just egg whites. The yolk also contains more phosphorus, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, and calcium than the white, and it contains all of the zinc in one shell.
Eggs are also known to raise HDL levels in blood cholesterol. HDL is the “good cholesterol” which you would want high levels of, while LDL cholesterol is what you want to keep in check.
What’s the verdict?
The old daily cholesterol recommended intake was 300 mg per day. This was probably the basis for recommending a maximum of 1 egg per day since one egg contains roughly 185 mg of cholesterol, as seen in the Food and Nutrition Research Institute website’s food pyramid (http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph/index.php/tools-and-standard/nutritional-guide-pyramid#adults-20-39yrs-old).
However, a 2013 review by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology found “no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum [blood] cholesterol”. Also, in 2015, the US dietary guidelines mention absolutely no restriction in egg consumption. The era that has demonized the egg wrongfully has come to an end.
Bottom-line, the saturated fats in eggs are not to be blamed for elevated blood cholesterol levels. Other foods consumed that are high in trans fats are to be blamed. Trans fats are found in hydrogenated oils which can be in prepackaged baked goods, junk food, fast food, industrial cooking oils, margarine, doughnuts, etc. If you are worried about elevated cholesterol levels, then stay away from trans fats instead of blaming eggs.
This also goes for many other foods that have been demonized in the past, such as virgin coconut oil, avocados, etc. Food information is constantly changing with better research and technology. An open mind is needed to accept the new information that comes. Keep in mind that we also live in a world that is filled with highly processed food. Instead of blaming real food for negative health conditions, it is high time that we check what highly processed foods there are in our diets—chances are they are truly to blame.