A Medical Student Blog

Unofficial thoughts on medicine and medical school

a “new” take on eggs — they’re not bad!

 Today, we had an AWESOME patient management class on syncope, loss of consciousness, with these wonderful clinical vignettes, which I hope to share with you soon.  But for this post, I wanted to make a quick note on eggs, because some of my friends are afraid of eating egg yolks, worrying that by doing so, they will boost their cholesterol levels, and give themselves heart disease.

So the good news: eggs, including egg yolks, in moderation (which is defined as 1 a day or 7 eggs/week) are safe and healthy and you don’t have to be scared of them:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/eggs/

 

 

The other important thing to clear up is that, often in health news, you hear about being careful with your cholesterol, HDL, LDL levels — “too high” of LDL, and that’s bad.   

 

It’s then easy then to assume that “eating” cholesterol is bad for you.

 

But there’s surprisingly little evidence to support that assumption.  In fact, it appears that there is no link between eating lots of cholesterol, and giving you heart disease.

 

That is what I concluded after I read a review article written by Harvard professors Frank Hu, Joanne Manson, Walter Willet, who are respected principal investigators of large-scale studies on nutrition, preventive medicine, such as the Women’s Health Initiative, and the Nurses Health Study.  I highlighted some of the passages in that article if you were more interested (for the full article, click here Fat, eggs and heart disease):

 

In controlled metabolic studies conducted in humans, dietary cholesterol raises levels of total and LDL cholesterol in blood, but the effects are relatively small compared with saturated and trans fatty acids, and individuals vary widely in their responses. A significant positive association between dietary cholesterol and CHD was found in some epidemiologic studies, but not in others. In a pooled analysis of four studies [5–7,11], the relative risk of CHD was 1.30 (1.10 –1.50) for a difference of 200 mg/1000 kcal in dietary cholesterol [124]. But this analysis included only those studies with positive findings. The Nurses’ Health Study found a weak and nonsignificant positive association between dietary cholesterol and risk of CHD (relative risk for each increase of 200 mg/1000 kcal 5 1.12, 95% confidence interval 0.91–1.40).

Surprisingly, there is little direct evidence linking higher egg consumption and increased risk of CHD…The null association between egg consumption and risk of CHD observed in these studies may be somewhat surprising, considering the widespread belief that eggs are a major cause of heart disease. One egg contains about 200 mg cholesterol, but also appreciable amounts of protein, unsaturated fats, folate, B vitamins and minerals. It is conceivable that the small adverse effect caused by cholesterol is counterbalanced by potential beneficial effects of other nutrients.

These findings do not suggest that one should go back to the traditional high cholesterol Western diet. Instead, they suggest that among healthy men and women, moderate egg consumption can be part of a nutritious and balanced diet. Because eggs are excellent and relatively inexpensive sources of essential amino acids and certain vitamins, they can substitute for other animal products such as red meat. These results also illustrate the danger of judging health effects of a food by single nutrients or components contained in the food.

 

June 24, 2008 Posted by | Health news, Nutrition | , , , , , , | 5 Comments