Sunday, September 26, 2010

De-mystifying the Egg

The egg has always been associated with the word cholesterol and not in a good way.

Cholesterol is a member of a group of substances called fats. And like other types of fats, there are good and bad cholesterol.

The Full Picture of Your Cholesterol
A complete understanding of your cholesterol profile should consist of 3 things:

1. HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) – this is the good cholesterol which picks up and carries excess cholesterol from artery walls and brings it back to the liver for processing and removal. Therefore you want this number to be as high as possible to protect your heart.

2. LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) – this is the bad cholesterol made by the liver to carry cholesterol to the body’s cells and tissues and may form deposits on the walls of arteries and other blood vessels. You want this number to be as low as possible for a healthy heart.

3. Triglycerides – these are fats converted from excess calories you consume and they made up a large part of VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein). High triglycerides are usually associated with high LDL readings and are an indication of increased risk of heart disease.

Eggs and Your Cholesterol
For many years, eggs have been labeled as the “forbidden” food especially for those who are battling with high cholesterol levels. The fact is, eggs are a good source of nutrients such as protein, unsaturated fats, choline (which has been linked to preserving memory), lutein and zeaxanthin (which may protect against vision loss). Although it is true that eggs have a lot of cholesterol, not all of that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries like saturated fats and trans-fats.

And nutritionally, there is no difference between brown eggs and white eggs. They just come from different hen breeds. Because the hen breed that produces brown eggs require more feed over the course of their life, brown eggs tend to be more expensive than white eggs.

A review of scientific research and diet recommendation regarding eggs was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2004. The article wrote that data from free-living populations show that egg consumption is not associated with higher cholesterol levels and as a whole, the epidemiologic literature does not support the idea that egg consumption is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. The most recent American Heart Association guidelines no longer include a recommendation to limit egg consumption but recommend the adoption of eating practices associated with good health.

Results from another research conducted by a team at the University of Surrey, UK, published in The European Journal of Nutrition in 2008, showed that people who ate 2 eggs per day while on a calorie-restricted diet, not only lost weight but also reduced the levels of cholesterol in their blood. This research provides further evidence to support the scientific claim that saturated fat in other foods commonly found in the diet (such as pastry, processed meats, biscuits and cakes) is more responsible for raising blood cholesterol levels than eggs.

Now, I am not advocating starting an egg spree or binge if you will. But it helps to remove the misguided “fear” we have about the nutritious egg. As with every food item, moderation is the key. Too much spinach can give you the sensitivities and cringe too, no? *Wink*

So do incorporate eggs as part of your healthy diet.
P.S. Just don’t get carried away…

Oh! And don't forget to check out my Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs recipe.

1. S. B. Kritchevsky. “A Review of Scientific Research and Recommendations Regarding Eggs”, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 90006, 596S-600S (2004).
2. N.L. Harman, A.R. Leeds and B.A. Griffin. “Increased Dietary Cholesterol does not Increase Plasma Low Density Lipoprotein when Accompanied by a Energy-Restricted Diet and Weight Loss”, The European Journal of Nutrition, Vol 47, Pg 287-293 (2008).


Your Wonderful Sis said...

Is it healthier to leave the yolk behind and just eat the whites? Or it doesn't make a difference?

Kelly said...

If you are having genetically high cholesterol problems, still be careful about the amount of egg yolks you eat a week. Keep it to about 2 to 3 should be fine. Otherwise, eating whole eggs is fine. Just watch you other sources of cholesterol.