Are Eggs Healthy or Harmful? Let’s Settle This.

Eggs have been one of the most debated-about foods in the medical community over the past two decades. If you ask a Dietician or a Physician whether or not you should eat them, you will likely get many different answers. Some may rave about their many health benefits and tout them as a superfood, while others may warn of severe cardiac risk factors. So how do we determine whether or not they are healthy?

Let’s take the criticisms first.

In 2011, the new US Dietary Guidelines were published and advocated for only one egg per day for Americans – including as an ingredient. Why? Cardiologists took a deeper look into this and discovered in a study that patients who had two eggs per week had less arterial plaque than patients who had more than three per week.

Eggs are high in cholesterol, one egg alone contains 186 mg of cholesterol within the yolk. Many people falsely believe that high cholesterol causes heart disease; it doesn’t. The cause of heart disease is inflammation, processed foods, and lifestyle factors like chronic stress. There is also a suggestion that the consumption of eggs causes or worsens atherosclerosis because of the high fat content. This is also quite misleading.

Additionally, the documentary What the Health laid the claim that eggs are as toxic as smoking several cigarettes a day due to their high dioxin content. Dioxins are classified as a “known carcinogen” by the WHO, but are also present in plants. Sometimes in even higher concentrations. The intake of dioxins from eggs are counteracted  by the intake vitamin A which is only found in animal protein. The bottom line: dioxins aren’t good, but they are in everything. Eating a well rounded whole food diet will help the detoxification process.

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Why does the medical community believe that eggs are healthy?

Eggs are a great source of protein, selenium, choline, zinc, iron, and Vitamin A, which makes them a low calorie nutrient powerhouse. They are also very easy to find and are quite inexpensive. When evaluating bang-for-your-buck, eggs will easily top the charts.

Based on these facts alone, you may think eating eggs are beneficial. Not so fast.

Eggs can be extremely harmful to people who have diabetes and heart disease. If you have or are at risk of having either of these conditions, eggs should not be in your diet. Period.

Additionally, many people are allergic or intolerant to eggs; they are one of the top 5 most common foods that cause allergic symptoms. Consuming eggs if you are intolerant to them could lead to high levels of inflammation in your body which causes further disease and damage to your gut.

What evidence do we have?

The Cleveland Clinic has recently made some noise in the egg debate as they released bombshell evidence that meat and eggs cause heart attacks and strokes. They found that omnivores (people who eat plants and meat) created a chemical called TMAO. TMAO has been shown to create new arterial plaque and is converted by a gut bacteria from carnitine, a component of red meat. Vegans did not have this gut bacteria and; therefore, didn’t create this harmful substance.

The Cleveland Clinic went on to present a study two weeks ago that showed that ingesting just two hard boiled eggs caused an immediate rise in TMAO – just like red meat.

Should we eat them?

The takeaway? Eggs can be harmful, we know that much. What we don’t know is how harmful they are in each individual. The study released by Cleveland Clinic really puts an explanation point on that claim that they can do quite a bit of damage, particularly in showing an immediate change in blood chemistry that precedes arterial plaque. There are many alternatives to eggs doesn’t come with these serious health risks. From a strictly science based position, I vote no, you probably shouldn’t eat them if you are at risk of cardiovascular issues (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, etc.). If you are not at an elevate risk, 2-3 eggs per week are probably safe for consumption.

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Healthy Egg Substitutes for Cooking

1/4 cup of Applesauce

1 TBSP of Chia Seeds + 3 TBSP of Water per

1/4 cup of Banana

 

Links: 

Cleveland Clinic, “Choline, TMAO and Heart Health” : http://www.clevelandheartlab.com/blog/choline-tmao-heart-health/

https://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2017/04/cleveland_clinic_research_show_1.html

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