Demystifying the great egg yolk debate.
*Note: This post is coming from my other blog, I'm not totally out of the loop*
Eggs and egg yolks in particular have taken a hit from the media. Titles of articles have jumped to conclusions such as "egg yolks are as bad as smoking for arteries and plaque buildup." These conclusions have been coming from this article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22882905
My interest was piqued, because it's a Canadian published article and one of the authors is at my school, UofT.
One rebuttal I've seen has stated that two of the main authors get funding from the statin drug industry, so their opinion is biased.
The study in question was observational, meaning that no conclusive arguments can be made from it. At best you could state that there was a positive relationship between egg consumption and plaque buildup. Other confounding factors with this study include the fact that they simply asked the participants to recall how many eggs per week they ate over their lifetime. The participants age averaged over 60 with those consuming the most eggs being over 70 (isn't plaque buildup naturally something that occurs as we get older?). Also they didn't take into account what other foods the participants ate with the eggs.
Why would this be a problem you ask?
A healthy egg breakfast, lunch, or dinner would contain lots of whole eggs for their excellent protein, vitamin, and mineral content (eggs are such a high quality protein that they are the standard other proteins are compared against, beating whey, chicken, and beef, etc.). Choline is a nutrient exclusively found in the egg yolk that helps to process cholesterol and increase HDL, that's the good cholesterol, which clears out our arteries!
Most people tend to go with overcooked eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, toast, juice, milk, or fast food egg sandwiches made from discs of egg (ummm really?) Overcooking eggs, like scrambled eggs, destroys the choline and other nutrients in the egg yolk, oxidizing it and making it more of a source of LDL and less HDL. The other problem with these typical weekend breakfast meals is that you're incorporating high fat and high carb in the same meal. When insulin spikes from a high carb meal it shuts down our fat breakdown and releasing mechanisms and increases fat storing enzymes. Combine this with a high fat meal at the same time and all that excess energy will be stored as fat and to summarize the resulting effects on cardiovascular health: abnormal hormonal levels combined with high blood lipid and cholesterol levels will increase the risk of plaque buildup and atherosclerosis.
If you are healthy, exercise often and practice good nutrition principles like not combining high fat with high carb foods in the same meal, whole eggs can be beneficial for heart health, even when consumed daily, if you don't overcook them.
Who should avoid whole eggs? Only a very small subset of individuals really. If you have a family history of high cholesterol, are sedentary, overweight, and over 30 or so, whole eggs might cause your cholesterol levels to go up or increase plaque buildup. Seeing how these people should be doing something about the fact that they into this category (i.e., starting to exercise, eating healthier, losing weight, just moving more!), you probably have no reason to avoid the nutrient dense whole eggs. At least include them in your diet 3-5 times per week if you are trying to lose weight!
For more support against these recent findings, check out this blog post.
Or check out Johnny Bowden's book 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth. Spoiler Alert: Eggs are one of the top of the top for many health professionals and nutrition experts and this book will further educated you on the benefits of whole eggs.
Be sure click the links below to share this information with those naysayers who tell you that all those eggs you eat are unhealthy for you, while they're scoffing down a McDonald's burger!