The Doctors that Cried “Yolk!”

By: Kathy Hui

I don’t believe that eating a lot of eggs is bad for the average healthy individual.

I used to think so, but I broke away from the clutches of Common Knowledge about two years ago when Ben P. told me he ate six eggs for breakfast.

The debate about eggs and cholesterol levels began in the 1960’s when eggs were given a bad rap for their high dietary cholesterol. Since one egg (white + yolk) contains about 200 mg of cholesterol, doctors and others such as the American Heart Association thought that eating eggs would increase one’s cholesterol level in the blood, thus leading to heart disease.

 

truffle-scrambled-eggs

But the cholesterol in = blood cholesterol equation is wrong.

The amount of dietary cholesterol one eats does not equal the amount of blood cholesterol in their system.

In fact, everyone needs cholesterol, and high cholesterol does not amount to higher risk of heart disease. However, small dense LDL particles (as opposed to large, fluffy LDL particles and the unanimous ‘good’ HDL particles) do heighten cardiovascular disease risks because of plaque buildup in arteries. The link between cholesterol and saturated fats and heart attack is actually pretty weak, but that’s an entire different story.

Eggs are a fantastic nutrient dense source of fat and protein, and it would be a shame for many to shy away from them due to misguided news.

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I was furious last summer when researchers from Western University published a new study, claiming that eating an egg a day was almost as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day! A deeper look into the study revealed a lot of flaws and a poorly conducted study overall.

Dr. David Spence’s study was conducted in the following manner:

  1. He collected data from patients at cardiovascular prevention clinics by using a questionnaire about how many egg yolks they ate per week and also how many cigarettes they smoked per day.
  2. Then, he correlated the data between egg yolks and the plaque area, and likewise for cigarettes smoked and plaque area.

I would like to point out, as many others have, that these people were old (average age of almost 70) and already at risk for heart disease. This study uses only one questionnaire, singling out egg yolks and cigarettes, and neglects carbohydrate intake, fat intake, exercise levels, waist circumference (were the participants fat or skinny?! Dunno.) or as I would call it, the big picture.

It sure sounds like this doc was out to get eggs… Oh wait, he’s funded by the statin-industry!

Remember when you heard that one large egg yolk contained more cholesterol than a KFC Double Down?! That story came from the same industry. Wow, it’s better to eat Double Downs than eggs! Really?

facepalm

On the other hand, a major study that cleared eggs names was a study from Harvard in 1999 that also used questionnaires, but with healthy men and women. This study collected data on the amount of eggs consumed per week. What’s different, however, was that follow-up questionnaires were asked every two years that included updates on their health status, whether they were now at risk with chronic heart disease, became diabetic, etc. Their conclusion was that eating an egg a day did not increase a (non-diabetic) person’s risk for chronic heart disease.

I applaud Dr. Spence on one thing. He knows how to use fear to attract attention. Comparing eggs to smoking and fast food burgers is a sure way to catch the public media’s eye.

In the end, research doesn’t clearly point to the fact that the consumption of eggs results in high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. In fact, I think that eggs layed by healthy, happy, chicken, that get to run around and eat food they were meant to eat are more than a great source of food for us. Don’t take my word for it though, think and find out for yourself! Remember this article by Praneeth? Real life example, right there. Now ditch those egg white omelettes and eat the real deal.

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What arguments have you heard regarding eggs, cholesterol and heart disease? How often do you check the validity or the research behind health claims? Comment below and “like” us on facebook!

Kathy is a full-time engineering student! Introduced to weight training back in 2010, when she joined WARRIORS S&C, Kathy is on a continuous learning path towards better health, nutrition and getting stronger. She loves to cook and is adopting a paleo lifestyle. Kathy has dabbled in general strength training and currently has an interest in weightlifting.  A good WARRIORS Conditioning workout always pumps her up for the rest of the day. Outside of the gym, you will find Kathy watching movies, nerding out (not in AHS bro), or eating.

References:

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Doctors that Cried “Yolk!”

  1. NatBotzang

    I heard something along the lines of inflammation causing plaque buildup, which is really just the body trying to protect an injury in the blood vessel. If there is no need for protection, there would be no need for plaque, and I would think that the body would just rid itself of unnecessary “tools” in its repair kit – in this case, plaque formed using among other things, cholesterol. Interestingly enough calcium is a part of plaque…should we tell people to stop having so much darn calcium too?

    Side note, some researchers have found a new route to study regarding degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. As opposed to trying to eliminate the plaque buildup in the brain, they are looking into trying to reduce inflammation of the brain which is a major contributor to the plaque build up in the first place. And guess what…cholesterol isn’t the cause of inflammation.

    Eat yer darn yolks. My bad for not being able to reference any of my information. Do call me out if I’m wrong.

  2. austinalehunt

    Nat, you leave the greatest comments! Interesting points you bring up, although I haven’t done much research on this subject personally, what you’ve written sounds valid to me. If I’m not mistaken, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” proposed some ideas similar to yours. There is certainly a misconception in society in terms of the correlation between the foods we eat, cholesterol and it’s effect in our bodies. It would be nice if you could remember where you heard or read these points 🙂 Ps, you’ve given me an idea for a future article!

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