Isn’t it time to stop throwing eggs in the face of egg-lovers?

Image: Wikipedia

How complicated can an egg get? Pretty complicated it seems.

This report No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? (Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2012) has the effect of an egg in the face of this egg-lover and stirring up controversy over the humble egg and whether-an-egg-is-good-for-your-health issues.

I sure wish researchers and medical people would get their facts straight about eggs. Every few decades, the tide swings the other way about whether or not we should eat eggs.

Growing up in the sixties, they told our parents it was bad to eat eggs, that eggs were high in cholesterol and that eating eggs gave you heart disease and all…

And then when I was getting rolling on my career path, they were telling us that only egg yolks are bad (a still influential view), so a whole generation went yolk-less and women followed the example of models who stayed think by eating egg-whites only.

And then while I began raising my own kids and wondering how much egg to serve and how to serve egg to my husband and kids, the word came out that the key to eggs was to avoid hydrogenated oils, … with the egg association’s advice to avoid cooking eggs with hydrogenated cooking oils (the egg association has at least a dozen tips on how to cook your eggs).

More recently, the experts encouraged us parents to take eggs off the naughty list, telling us that egg food is brain food, a key to success and better test scores,  and that the choline in an egg is important for our kids’ (and adults’) brain development and protects their eyes, and what loving parent with their best intentions could resist avoid heeding advice like that?

Only last year, the health world gave us greater licence with the egg in the kitchen and told us to eat more eggs, not fewer. The new word out yet again was that eating more eggs could increase the amount of cholesterol in high-density lipoproteins (HDLs)—the good cholesterol. They reported a Michigan State University study involving more than 27,000 people that found that cholesterol was lower in people who ate more than four eggs per week than among people who eschewed eggs. Also fairly recent news … new research that tells us eggs help those of us who hard and long hours to stay awake and alert during the working day.

But now this? No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? is like a slap in the face for the well-meaning parents who have been putting lots of “wholesome eggs” on the home menu. In short, we egg-lovers get buffeted about, (as far as I can see in the course of my short life-time) swinging like a pendulum between the good news and the bad news about eggs. I seriously feel deprived over, and defensive about my right to eat and enjoy an egg, without getting jerked around and having my mind messed up and having to go on a guilt trip.

How can there be so much controversy about the one most innocent, simple, basic and primal food that’s so loaded with life and nutrition in the world? The egg has been so revered by many ancient civilizations, judging by the number of egg-related creation myths (think Cosmic Egg, World Egg, Easter Egg traditions) in the world. I mean the egg features big on the breakfast palette of just about every civilization, so how can something so full of goodness and life, also be so downright bad for us?

I mean …look at the Japanese, they consume more eggs than anybody else in the world…300 eggs per person, and still more Japanese live to a ripe old age than just about anybody else in the world (except that the Fukushima disaster set Japanese females behind to second place in this year’s life expectancy statistics, behind Hong Kongers). Heck, in Japan, if you go to Hakone which is near where I live, the locals stubbornly have it that if you eat one of its volcanically brewed black eggs (called the Owakudani Black Egg), you prolong your life by 7 years, and two, 14 years and so forth…  Doesn’t it really get you wondering what the experts are getting wrong with their big picture of eggs and the health of mankind?

Just when I’ve got used to the idea of enjoying my eggs whole again … there is only more confusing research to make us hold back from serving up the most convenient and neat nutritional package that is called the egg. Steven Novella in Eggs and Atherosclerosis points out the flaws in this most recent report challenging the health benefits of eggs, and writes:

“The weaknesses of this study include the fact that it is retrospective and based on survey data, which is notoriously inaccurate. Further, it is an observational study and therefore there are many confounding factors that are not controlled for. Perhaps people who eat more egg yolks also eat more bacon, or have a generally poorer diet, or don’t exercise as much. The authors acknowledge this in their last line about needed a prospective study that controls for possible confounding factors.

But the data in the study is even more problematic, in my opinion. The article itself is behind a paywall, but here is table two containing the key data. … The table does indeed show a significant increase in carotid plague, the build up of cholesterol on the inner lining of the main arteries that feed the brain, with increase in egg yolk years. There are significant confounders and contradictions in the data as well, however. The most glaring to me is that total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL do not vary significantly across the egg yolk years columns. Apparently what the authors have shown (which is consistent with previous data) is that eating lots of eggs does not increase total cholesterol or bad cholesterol (LDL) nor does it decrease good cholesterol (HDL). In my mind this leaves the authors completely without a mechanism to explain a causal relationship between egg consumption and carotid plaque. This strongly suggests the association is not causal but is incidental or spurious … Overall the data are not very compelling. The lack of correlation with cholesterol is most damning, in my opinion.”

 

I hope he is right and the report is flawed.  Seriously, pretty please, will somebody please get the facts right and set the record straight once and for all???

***

Source reference article: No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles TimesAugust 14, 2012

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