Eggs. Nature’s perfect food, right? Tons of protein, antioxidants, and minerals and delicious when scrambled, poached, or fried into an omelet, right? One of the essential foods you must include in your diet if you’re going to get big and strong, right? Not so fast. I used to think the same way, but with a wealth of incriminating evidence piling up, eggs have lost their luster for me. Here are some of the top reasons why.
Reason #1: It’s probably smart to stay away from cholesterol bombs
Eggs are the single largest source of cholesterol in the American diet. One egg has as much cholesterol as a Hardee’s Thickburger. And although it’s true that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much of an effect on blood cholesterol levels (only about a 10% increase), that’s not the reason why we should be avoiding dietary cholesterol.
The problem is the pro-inflammatory and oxidative effects dietary cholesterol has been shown to have on your LDL. This in turn can damage the endothelium (the lining inside our arteries) and increase cardiovascular effects. Another recent study found that frequent egg consumption might be as bad as smoking when it comes to carotid artery plaque build-up.
Reason #2: Salmonella poisoning is not a fun thing to have
Salmonella is the leading cause of food-borne illness related death in the United States. More than 100,000 Americans are poisoned by salmonella-tainted eggs per year. So whatever you do, make sure you stay away from conventional eggs at all costs. Even if you don’t die from salmonella, the symptoms even from just getting sick are quite unpleasant. That being said, the risk lies mainly with conventional eggs.
Reason #3: Free-range eggs may not be much of a better choice
While purchasing free-range eggs over conventional eggs is definitely a step up from an animal welfare and immediate health standpoint, considering you’ll have lower risk of salmonella poisoning, studies have shown there’s not much difference in cholesterol levels between the two.
Reason #4: Consuming an egg a day may shorten your life
The Harvard Physicians Health study, which followed 20,000 doctors for over twenty years found that those doctors consuming at least one egg a day had a significantly higher all-cause mortality risk, which essentially suggests that consuming even just one egg a day is significantly associated with a shorter lifespan. Not great news for those who like their omelets in the morning.
That being said, if you are going to include some animal protein in your diet (of which I believe there should be little, if any) eggs from pasture-raised hens may actually be one of the better choices for you, considering your other options. Dr. Joel Fuhrman notes that eggs should be favored over fish or dairy because they are relatively safe from chemical pollutants, mercury, and PCBs.
So what’s my recommendation? If you’re going to eat eggs, make sure you buy the highest quality eggs possible and eat them infrequently. But why not just play it safe and avoid eggs all together, now that you know they’re packaged with significant risk? If you feel like you need something egg-like, try a tofu scramble.
Continue the debate:
1. Spence JD, Jenkins DJ, Davignon J. 2010. “Dietary cholesterol and egg yolks: not for patients at risk of vascular disease.” Canadian Journal of Cardiology, November 26.
2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2009. FDA Improves Egg Safety.
3. Anderson KE. 2011. “Comparison of fatty acid, cholesterol, and vitamin A and E composition in eggs from hens housed in conventional cage and range production facilities.” Poultry Science, July.
4. Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. 2008. “Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians’ Health Study.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April.
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