By Chris Hammerlund
If you’ve believed most of what you’ve read for 30 years, the good old chicken egg was never what it was cracked up to be.
Cholesterol? Sure. Eggs are terrible for you. Everybody knows that.
But sooner or later – mostly later – the truth comes out, and now we know something about eggs that we didn’t know before. Most of the harsh rhetoric about the loveable little ovoids is the result of scientists not quite understanding how the human body works. You know the rule about what ASS-U-ME-ING does, right?
Who’d have thought supposed really smart people would have talked us into doubting a food so nearly perfect as the egg?
Yes, but here’s how new thinking works. The average eggs contain about 212 milligrams of cholesterol (a lot), but almost none of that actually reaches your circulatory system after it does a pit stop in your stomach. The body does not always absorb even similar elements the same way. Saturated and trans fats do much more damage to cholesterol levels than the occasional healthy omelet.
Think of your body as a delicate, subtle machine that moves nutrients around your body and though membranes.
As far as heart disease is concerned, unless you have diabetes, moderate egg consumption won’t affect your heart health, and eating up to one egg a day does not increase heart disease risk in healthy people. It’s important to note, however, that studies have shown that eating one or more eggs a day is riskier.
As it turns out, the cholesterol in eggs has a much smaller effect on blood levels than anyone had thought.
Scientists and doctors have gotten this wrong for decades and are just now wising up. Doesn’t that make you mad as heck?
While egg yolks have a lot of cholesterol—and so may weakly affect blood cholesterol levels—eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate. The body filters much of the cholesterol dumped onto your stomach even more effectively than it filters other nutrients.
Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet.
People who have difficulty controlling their total and LDL cholesterol should still be cautious. Choose foods made with egg whites. The same is true for people with diabetes. In the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, heart disease risk was increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs a day.
A good guideline? For people who have diabetes and heart disease, limit egg to three yolks per week.
Still, three yolks a week does not come close to going cold turkey on eggs. But let’s not get crazy with the good news. Daily three-egg omelets will still be a bad idea, but it’s often the total “breakfast package” that causes a nutritional problem. To your cardiovascular system, scrambled eggs, salsa, and a whole wheat English muffin is a far more joyous meal than scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages, butter, home fries, and white toast.
So, go ahead. Fall in love with the little, lovely egg all over again.
Who am I, and why would a person listen to me? Both fair questions. I’m Christine Hammerlund and I’ve been a nurse for years. I have delivered babies, saved lives, and cared for hundreds of patients through their medical triumphs and tragedies. Now I run Assured Healthcare at http://www.assuredhealthcare.com. We're a multi-million dollar medical staff provider in Illinois. I live in Antioch, Ill. Got health questions for me, whether large or small? I’ll answer. Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/AssuredHealthcareStaffing and Chrishammerlund@yahoo.com