CrossFit South Rockland

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eggs and Health: Understanding the Risk vs. Nutrition of Eggs

Are you one of those people who believe that eggs will do you harm? It might not be the whole truth. Because of a determination in the 1950s by researchers to come up with a cause of heart disease, and because cholesterol was found to be a component of artery plaque, the word spread that the elimination of eggs and all high cholesterol foods from the diet was a must. The New York Times has labeled this as a "longstanding conceptual error" pertaining to heart disease.
Learning the natural workings of cholesterol in the body dispels the harm. Whether we eat foods with cholesterol or not, our bodies manufacture its own cholesterol in order to maintain a healthy system. Cholesterol is a beneficial component of hormone, nerve and brain function. If the body is low on cholesterol, the liver will produce more; if the body has enough, production will halt. Also to dispel the egg cholesterol theory, in 2001, researchers at Kansas State University showed that a nutrient called phosphatidylcholine actually deters the cholesterol in eggs from getting into the body.
We need to accept that the reason for high cholesterol rates are still unanswered, and that cholesterol is not the only determining factor in heart disease. A Harvard School of Public Health study shows there is no significant link between eating eggs and developing cardiovascular disease. Facts show that aging, hormonal imbalance, even diabetes play roles in increasing cholesterol numbers. But diet and eating too much of unhealthful foods is the number one factor in all of it.
Cholesterol can definitely be found in artery plaque, and that is because cholesterol naturally travels through the system constantly, and works like a bandage to repair arterial breaks caused by inflammation. It goes to the damaged area, and will build up the more an artery has inflammation. This is how cholesterol has come to be determined a threat. Yet it's the processed foods that create the damaging inflammation.
The egg is a natural food considered to be one of the most nutritious. It's a complete natural package of a bundle of nutrients. And as long as the egg is "natural," unprocessed, and eaten whole, it is healthful.
(NOTE: While eggs, in moderation, can add nutrition to a balanced diet, people on low-fat, low-cholesterol diets for heart disease should still limit their intake of eggs.)
Unfortunately, eggs are another food in our diet whereby their development has been altered and jeopardized, much like beef. The beef we used to consume was from grass-fed cattle, and now the majority we eat is typically from corn-fed cattle. The omega 6 oil in corn disturbs the nutritional balance in relation to the omega-3 content, causing more inflammation. The majority of chickens are fed a diet consisting of corn, soy and/or grains, and not the grass, seeds and bugs that are filled with protein they should naturally be consuming. Free-range chickens have a better chance of having a more naturally balanced diet, but it is very difficult to find chickens that have corn-free feed.
Processed eggs include dehydrated, liquefied, packaged, etc. Omelets or scrambled eggs served at restaurants are very often made from liquefied eggs bought from a distributor that are packaged in ready-to-pour cartons. Because they are packaged, they also contain preservatives, sugars and/or possibly hydrogenated oils. It's best to order poached or soft boiled, or ask if the scrambled eggs are made from fresh whole eggs just to make sure.
Eating just the egg whites equates to not eating a "whole food." The entire egg is the complete package. Each component of the egg holds a variety of nutrients that complement the other, but it is the yolk that contains more of the nutrients and 50 percent of the protein.
Some researchers say that if eggs are not cooked properly they can also cause inflammation. They indicate that cooking the egg yolk at high heat will oxidize its cholesterol and cause free radicals in the body, but others, such as the author of Cholesterol Myths, Uffe Ravnskov, believes otherwise. Precaution could always help by eating more eggs sunny-side up, soft-boiled or poached. Another good practice is to cook eggs at the lowest temperature possible; just put a cover on the pan, turn the heat down and let it cook. It takes longer but is actually more tasty.
(Warning: Use caution when cooking runny eggs; raw eggs can contain salmonella.)
So if you're feeling guilty about eating eggs at breakfast, consider all the factors. And look around your plate; is there refined bread for toast? Processed and pasteurized fruit juice without the fiber? Sugary syrup on the refined pancakes made with hydrogenated oil? It's not just the eggs you need to worry about.

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