We all know that eggs are packed with protein and other good things, but what about the not-so-good things? Are we in fact better off by not eating eggs, and getting our nutrients elsewhere?
The Good Things about Eggs
WebMD.com is typical of advice on the benefits of eating eggs:
• They offer “complete protein”. One egg has 6 grams of the stuff, with all nine “essential” amino acids, the building blocks of protein. That’s important because those are the ones your body can’t make by itself.
• They contain more nutrients per calorie than most other foods, including Selenium, Phosphorus, Vitamin B12, and antioxidants (and Choline)
• The “good” cholesterol (HDL), seems to go up in people who have three or more eggs a day. Of course, LDL, the bad type, goes up, too. On balance it’s a benefit.
• They Can Lower Your Triglycerides (often measured when you get cholesterol tests)
• Though studies vary, it appears that a daily egg might lower your risk of a stroke. In a recent study, people who had about one a day were almost 30% less likely to die from hemorrhagic stroke than those who had none.
• They’re a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, that help keep you from getting eye diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
In “The End of Alzheimer’s”, Dr Dale Bredesen rates foods as Good, OK, and Avoid, with regards to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. He rates eggs as good.
The Not So Sure Things about Eggs
NutritionFacts.com links egg consumption to increased risk of cancer and other diseases, by affecting our gut bacteria:
“If we eat a lot of meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, we can foster the growth of bacteria that convert the choline and carnitine in these foods into TMA—trimethylamine, which can be oxidized into TMAO, and wreak havoc on our arteries, increasing our risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.”
A BBC article in 2019 “The truth about eating eggs” reviewed the pros and cons of eating eggs.
“If there was such a thing as a perfect food, eggs would be a contender. They’re readily available, easy to cook, affordable and packed with protein. But for decades, eating eggs has also been controversial due to their high cholesterol content – which some studies have linked to an increased risk of heart disease. But researchers haven’t definitively linked consumption of cholesterol to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
“Research published earlier this year, though, challenged the recent consensus that eggs pose no harm to our health. Researchers looked at data from 30,000 adults followed for an average of 17 years and found that each additional half an egg per day was significantly linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death. ‘We found that each half egg per day led to a 6% increased risk of heart disease and 8% increased risk of mortality.’”
“However, the study conflicts with past results. One previous analysis of half a million adults in China, published in 2018, even found the exact opposite. Those who ate eggs every day had an 18% lower risk of death from heart disease and 28% lower risk of stroke death compared to those who didn’t eat eggs.”
“While these studies have reignited the debate on the impact of cholesterol in eggs on our health, we do know some ways in which eggs could affect our risk of disease. One way is through a compound in eggs called choline, which may help protect us against Alzheimer’s disease. It also protects the liver. But it may have negative effects, too. Choline is metabolised by gut microbiota into a molecule called TMO, which is then absorbed into people’s livers and converted to TMAO, a molecule associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
“While researchers are a long way from understanding why eggs affect us differently, the vast majority of recent research suggests they pose no risk to our health, and are much more likely to provide health benefits. Even so, having eggs for breakfast every day probably isn’t the healthiest option, either …”
What do I do?
I’ve been following the advice in “How Not to Die”, and avoiding all animal proteins, so the issue doesn’t arise for me right now. However, if I do go back to a more conventional diet, I’ll certainly be eating eggs again, although just as certainly I’ll make it a once a week treat rather than a more regular part of my diet. And they’ll be organic!
NutritionFacts on eggs: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-our-gut-bacteria-can-use-eggs-to-accelerate-cancer/
Link to my post on “Alzheimer’s Disease”
Link to my post on “Cholesterol”
Link to my post on “How Not to Die”