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Eggs and Heart Health: How a Super Food Got a Bad Rap

By Michelle Matte, MSEd, CSCS

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Egg on Our Faces
For decades, health care professionals have warned us about the dangers of eating saturated fats from animal sources. In particular, the egg has been targeted as a cholesterol-laden time bomb, set to drive up your arterial plaque and give you an early heart attack. The public response has been to limit eggs to two per week, and to shun egg yolks, reserving only the bland egg white as a breakfast alternative.
The Yolk is on Us
While egg whites are a highly digestible source of protein, the yolk is nutrient dense, providing significant levels of several vitamins and minerals, according to the USDA. The yolk has been shown to be a rich source of the amino acid lutein, a critical nutrient for eye health. In a 2006 study of adults over age 60, consuming one egg per day for five weeks increased lutein levels without raising serum cholesterol.

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A Scrambled Message turned Sunny Side Up

The vilification of eggs began in the 1960s with studies performed on rabbits. Researchers found that rabbits who were fed eggs registered an alarming rise in serum cholesterol. The problem with this research is that rabbits are herbivores, and do not have the digestive capacity of humans and other omnivores. Recent research has dispelled the mythical link between eggs and high cholesterol in humans.

Breaking the Shell of Misinformation

Eggs make an ideal food for clients trying to lose weight. Eggs are a nutrient-rich superfood, low in calories and high in protein. Eggs from free-range organic chickens cost a bit more, but have higher nutritional value without the antibiotics and other harmful substances found in factory farm eggs. An extra large egg has only 90 calories. A hard boiled egg makes a great snack, and the fat in the yolk suppresses hunger. Make a low-carb frittata for dinner by chopping up mushrooms, peppers, onions and spinach and placing them in a greased casserole dish or coffee cup. Top with shredded cheese and pour beaten whole eggs over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the top turns golden and the eggs are firm.

Resources

You cannot rely on the latest nutrition fads to help your clients achieve results. To be a top trainer, nutrition education is an ongoing requirement. W.I.T.S. is here to help you succeed with our Nutritional Concepts course, available online.

References and Credits
Rong Y et al (2013). Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 2013;346:e8539
http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8539

Harvard School of Public Health: Eggs and Heart Disease

Eggs

New York Magazine: Understanding the New Science of Cholesterol
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/02/understanding-the-new-science-of-cholesterol.html

United States Department of Agriculture: Basic Report:  01123, Egg, whole, raw, fresh.
http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/112

Goodrow EF et al (2006). Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. Journal of Nutrition, 2006, Oct;136(10):2519-24.

*Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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