Eggs — Essential For Health Or Heart Attack On A Plate?

eggs cholesterol hearthealth health healthy NaturalCures HealthyEating Nutrition breakfast Primalliving Primal Keto Ketogenic Atkins LowCarb LCHF GetHealthy HealthyLife HealthTalk healthyheart heartfoundation HeartAssociation

Whenever someone asks me what I eat for breakfast, I can see the shock and horror on their faces when I tell them I eat 4 eggs fried in butter, along with 3 cups of vegetables.

“You only eat the egg whites, right?”

“Nope. I only eat whole eggs.”

They usually frown next. “But won’t they give you a heart attack?”

It’s a conversation I have all the time. Should you avoid eggs? Or eat them daily? Let’s take a look at truth about how eggs affect your overall health, cholesterol, risk of heart attack, and your body fat…

eggs cholesterol hearthealth health healthy NaturalCures HealthyEating Nutrition breakfast Primalliving Primal Keto Ketogenic Atkins LowCarb LCHF GetHealthy HealthyLife HealthTalk healthyheart heartfoundation HeartAssociation

Are Eggs Nutritious For Your Health?

Fats

Egg yolk contains 38% saturated fat, and 46% healthy monounsaturated fat (similar to the healthy fat in olive oil). 16% are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), containing omega-6 and omega-3 —which are considered “essential fats” (EFA) as they must be eaten as they cannot be manufactured by the body.

Did you know that 60% of your brain is fat? Your brain contains the largest concentration of EFAs in your body. The fat phobics might get their knickers in a twist over that one!

Research has shown these healthy fats reduce inflammation in your body, and may reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, arthritis, dementia and alzheimers. EFAs can also relieve depression or mood swings, improve circulation, improve memory, reduce fatigue, eliminate dry skin, and lower blood pressure.

If you have any of the above symptoms, then take a hard look at your diet…how often are you consuming Essential Fatty Acids? When my training clients first show me their food diary, it’s usually very low in EFAs—they don’t realise how important it is.

Aside from eggs, the top sources of useable EFA are oily fish and fish / cod liver oils.

But surely I can get those essential fats from plants instead? Well think again! Unfortunately humans can convert less than 5% of Alpha-Linoelic Acid (ALA) from plants1 such as flax seed or hemp into useable omega-3—something to consider if you ever decide to go to eating only a plant based diet, as your health will eventually decline.

Chickens that are pasture fed, or have a special omega-3 diet, produce higher levels of omega-3 in their eggs—so are more nutritious than their grain fed peers, as a higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is more beneficial for health.

Vitamins and Minerals

Whole eggs are high in…

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): needed to break down macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins.  If you’re lacking in this vitamin, you may have symptoms such as light sensitivity or sore eyes, peeling skin on your nose, mouth sores and migraines. If you’re suffering from illness, injury, disease or alcoholism, you might require additional B2. The top sources of Riboflavin are eggs, meat and dairy.

Vitamin B12: This essential vitamin is involved in the metabolism, and DNA synthesis. Vegans are often deficient in this critical vitamin. The top sources of B12 are eggs, meat, diary, fish and shellfish.

Vitamin D: is involved in a wide variety of functions in your body, such as bone health, your immune system, blood pressure, and testosterone levels. People with low vitamin D can also experience depression. Your body also manufacture vitamin D from sunlight—however most people do not achieve optimum levels, as they work in an office all day and the only sun exposure they receive is protected by clothes or sunscreen. The top food sources are oily fish, milk and eggs.

Choline: helps to regulate memory, your mood and muscle function. People with low choline can experience muscle and liver damage. The top sources are meat, eggs, fish, poultry, dairy, cruciferous vegetables, potatoes, some nuts and beans.

Protein

Eggs were one of the top sources of protein recommended by Vince Gironda —one of the best known trainers of champion bodybuilders in the 1950s, including Arnold Schwarzenneger. He felt you could eat an unlimited number of eggs per day (making my 4 eggs a drop in the ocean). Most of the old timers, including Arnold, would blend 6 or more raw eggs, milk and fruit and drink this shake throughout the day.

Protein is broken down into amino acids; but not all foods high in protein are good quality. There are number of ways to rate food, but one of them is called the Biological Value (BV)—how efficiently the body can utilise the protein eaten. Animal sources typically have the best ratings, as plant sources are often lacking or low in a few amino acids.

Eggs had the highest BV with a score of 100; although only just pipped to the post by Whey with a score of 104. Eggs also contain a significant amount of the amino acid Leucine—a potent amino acid for muscle growth and repair.

And lets face it, eggs are one of the cheapest sources of high quality protein.

Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Diseases

Cholesterol is an important substance in your body, and provides critical raw materials to make hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. These hormones have a wide ranging impact across your body, including whether you look like a man or woman, regulating menstrual cycles and sex drive, bone density, body fat and muscle levels. Your body converts cholesterol into Vitamin D when exposed to enough sunshine.

I bet you didn’t know that your liver manufactures cholesterol if there’s not enough around. And for the majority of people, your body produces more cholesterol than you eat. Your body will balance the production accordingly, so why not help it out? So when people have “high cholesterol” levels, this is referring to what is circulating in your blood (not what you had for breakfast).

Are eggs going to kill you? One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, investigated the association between eating cholesterol and coronary artery disease (CAD).5 The authors concluded:

“Egg or cholesterol intakes were not associated with increased CAD risk.”

In a study of mediterranean university graduates, lasting over 6 years, they found no association between eating eggs and the risk of cardiovascular disease.2

In a study of egg consumption by nearly 10,000 adults lasting 20 years, they concluded:3

“Consumption of greater than 6 eggs per week…does not increase the risk of stroke and ischemic stroke.”

In a health and nutrition survey conducted in the US between 1988 to 1994, they authors concluded:4

“We did not find a significant positive association between egg consumption and increased risk of mortality from CHD [Coronary Heart Disease] or stroke in the US population. These results corroborate the findings of previous studies.”

And for further endorsement, the British Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association have changed their stance on eggs, and now say there is no limit on how many eggs you can eat (unless you have familial hypercholesterolaemia).

Will Eggs Help You To Lose Weight?

One study put men and women on a calorie restricted diet, and assigned them to eat either two eggs, or a bagel for breakfast.6 They found that…

“The egg breakfast enhances weight loss, when combined with an energy-deficit diet.”

In an earlier study of overweight and obese adults by some of the same researchers, they found that having eggs for breakfast gave greater feelings of satiety, and resulted in eating less calories over the day.7

One study put one group of participants on a standard western diet of high carbohydrates with low fat, and the other one on a high-fat low-carbohydrate diet including 3 eggs a day. The high-fat egg participants lost 11% body fat, which was nearly 5 times more than the high-carb group.8

Will You Give The Egg Breakfast A Try?

There’s still a common misconception even amongst some health professionals, that eggs raise cholesterol and are bad for your health. However, the more recent research and the dropping of limits for eggs by the British Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association should give you reassurance that eggs are indeed healthy and nutritious.

Eggs can also help your weight loss, by providing more satiety, resulting in eating less calories over the day.

There are so many different ways to cook eggs, that it never gets boring. So go on, and give them a try. Here are 2 of my egg recipes:

George
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom

References

[1]Brenna JT; Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to long chain n-3 fatty acids in man. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2002 Mar;5(2):127-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11844977

[2] Zazpe I, Beunza JJ, Bes-Rastrollo M, Warnberg J, de la Fuente-Arrillaga C, Benito S, Vázquez Z, Martínez-González MA; Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in the SUN Project.  SUN Project. Investigators. https://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v65/n6/full/ejcn201130a.html

[3] Qureshi AI, Suri FK, Ahmed S, Nasar A, Divani AA, Kirmani JF; Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Med Sci Monit. 2007 Jan;13(1):CR1-8. Epub 2006 Dec. 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17179903

[4] Scrafford CG, Tran NL, Barraj LM, Mink PJ; Egg consumption and CHD and stroke mortality: a prospective study of US adults. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Feb;14(2):261-70. doi: 10.1017/S1368980010001874. Epub 2010 Jul 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20633314

[5] Jyrki K Virtanen, , Jaakko Mursu, Heli EK Virtanen, Mikael Fogelholm, Jukka T Salonen, Timo T Koskinen, Sari Voutilainen, and Tomi-Pekka Tuomainen; Associations of egg and cholesterol intakes with carotid intima-media thickness and risk of incident coronary artery disease according to apolipoprotein E phenotype in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):895-901. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.122317. Epub 2016 Feb 10. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/103/3/895

[6] JS Vander Wal, A Gupta, P Khosla, and NV Dhurandhar; Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Oct; 32(10): 1545–1551. Published online 2008 Aug 5. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2008.130 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755181/

[7] Vander Wal JS, Marth JM, Khosla P, Jen KL, Dhurandhar NV; Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Dec;24(6):510-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16373948

[8] Amy Miskimon Goss, Barbara A Gower, Taraneh Soleymani1, Mariah Stewart and Kevin Fontaine; Effects of an Egg-based, Carbohydrate-restricted Diet on Body Composition, Fat Distribution, and Metabolic Health in Older Adults with Obesity: Preliminary results from a randomized controlled trial. The FASEB Journal
vol. 31 no. 1 Supplement lb320 http://www.fasebj.org/content/31/1_Supplement/lb320.short

About George D. Choy 92 Articles
Personal Trainer and Calisthenics Instructor at Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, UK. Fit over 45. Dad with 2 energetic kids 😄 Passionate about helping people to keep strong, slim and healthy.

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