Sunday, April 28, 2019

Are Eggs Really Bad for You?

Demonizing eggs seems to occur on a regular cycle, and there has been a lot of bad press lately based on yet another study on eggs and health that came up with negative conclusions.      So what is the deal with this study and are eggs and egg yolks bad for people?   

To answer this question lets take a look at cholesterol since it is the bad actor that everyone tends to blame for blocking arteries and causing heart attacks and stroke.     Almost all of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver, and in fact the most popular cholesterol lowering medications work by decreasing your body’s production of cholesterol in the liver.  

Even if you eat NO cholesterol your body will make it because you cannot survive without it!  In addition, for most people your dietary intake of cholesterol has little to no effect on your circulating levels of cholesterol, and this includes egg yolks!  

As reported by NPR:

“[E]ating cholesterol can raise levels of it in the blood, but, as a growing body of research has shown, not by that much. Consuming sugar, trans fats or excessive saturated fat (from unhealthy sources) can be more harmful to cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself.

Most of the cholesterol in our bodies we make ourselves in the liver, and total body levels are heavily influenced by genetics, gender and age. As more and more research suggests that some degree of cholesterol consumption is harmless, if not healthy, the egg's reputation is gradually returning.”
In 2015, dietary cholesterol (and egg restriction) was finally eliminated from the U.S. dietary guidelines, and the controversy appeared to have settled. Now, a new study is again urging people to avoid eggs, linking egg consumption and dietary cholesterol to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.”

Latest Egg Study in the News

The study, published in the journal JAMA on March 19, 2019, analyzed data from 29,615 American adults pooled from six prospective cohort studies with a median follow-up of 17.5 years, and claims to have found a dose-dependent relationship between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality.

According to lead researcher Wenze Zhong, Ph.D., the results suggest there’s no safe amount of egg consumption, and the team believes the results should be taken into consideration when the U.S. dietary guidelines are updated.

Big Problems with this Egg Study

A careful review shows that are the multiple major flaws in this study.  According to Stuart Phillips,  Ph.D., director of the McMaster Centre for Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Research -- the amount of risk, that is reported in the study is trivial because the actual change in risk is insignificant.    For example the study quotes a relative risk increase of 17%.  However, the absolute risk (which is all that counts!) paints a very different picture and equates to 17 versus 15 coronary events (2 events total) per 1,000 person years.   Needless to say this difference is meaningless.

It is also important to note that their data is based on people’s memory of what they ate which has been proven over and over again to be very inaccurate.

Andrew Mente, PhD., principal investigator for the Epidemiology Program at the Population Health Research Institute, pointed out another problem with the data from this study:

“The primary hypothesis here is that eggs increase your bad cholesterol, and the more you eat, the worse it gets. But buried way down in the appendix is a note that they found higher egg intake is related to a reduction in LDL, your bad cholesterol. So, what’s driving the association in this research? It seems like there’s a contradiction with the findings.”

Several Studies Have Confirmed Eggs Are Good for Your Heart

There have been several large meta-analyses have completely refuted the claim that egg consumption raises your risk for CVD.

Not All Eggs Are Created Equal

Unfortunately most eggs you see in the store come from concentrated animal feeding operations, which are notorious for causing Salmonella infection. Eggs can become contaminated while they are being formed if the Salmonella bacteria exist inside a chicken’s ovaries.

So look for organic, cage free eggs or free range eggs meaning the chickens are not given any chemicals or medication and the same thing with the chickens feed.  Chickens are omnivores by nature and thrive on a diverse diet and roaming free range for their food. 

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