Eggs Are a No-Brainer

Wednesday Jan 25, 2017 | BY |
| Comments (31)

bigstock-130636133

Eggs come in and out of fashion. Periodically, they are considered the healthiest food you can eat. “Nature’s most perfect food.”

At other times, we see them as a health hazard akin to smoking. It all depends on which study is getting media attention in any particular month.

It would seem that scientists can’t make up their minds on eggs.

However, I don’t see much controversy about eggs, so that’s why I won’t eat them: organic, free-range or not.

For me, eggs fall into the easy, no-brainer category of: “just don’t eat them.”

I’m excluding a few rare occasions where I might have something with eggs in it. I I believe it’s possible to cheat occasionally on a diet without hurting the benefits.

Eating eggs is a choice, and they’re not too difficult to avoid, unlike gluten.

Here’s one thing that is NOT controversial: eggs are the second overall most common food allergen (after milk in children), and they are a very common cause of food poisoning through salmonella.

You may or may not decide to worry about these things, as allergy may not apply to you, and cases of food poisoning are relatively rare considering the number of eggs consumed.

So this brings us to the actual controversy around eggs: cholesterol.

For years, common wisdom backed by science was that cholesterol in our food is a direct cause of high cholesterol in our blood, which in turn causes heart disease.

But recently, many organizations have backed out of the belief that “dietary cholesterol causes high cholesterol” and now say that it’s not a matter of concern. Paleo bloggers, who write incendiary pamphlets with names such as the “Cholesterol Myth,” also agree with this.

However:

1) Blood cholesterol is linked to heart disease. Even Paleo bloggers have a hard time denying that truth. For more on the topic, please read my article here.

2) The real question is what causes high cholesterol and does dietary cholesterol influence blood cholesterol?

Why the big fuss around cholesterol and eggs? It’s simple: eggs are the most concentrated source of cholesterol food in the typical American diet. Other foods contain more saturated fat, but eggs pack in the cholesterol (with over 200 cholesterol per egg). All the cholesterol is concentrated in the yolk and not found in the white.

It would make intuitive sense that eating cholesterol might have an impact on our blood cholesterol, adding to the cholesterol that our bodies already produce. That was just what all the early studies on the topic have proved.

But here’s what caused the controversy: There have been many studies and meta-analysis studies funded by the American Egg Board and designed to exonerate eggs from all harm.

These studies look like this:

  • We take a group of people eating a standard American diet.
  • These people have “normal” cholesterol levels.
  • We add eggs to these people’s diets and see what the effect will be on cholesterol.
  • There is very little effect, so then we claim that dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol

What’s wrong with these studies?

  • The group of people used in those studies already consumes a diet that causes elevated cholesterol.
  • In these studies, people start with an average cholesterol level of 244 mg/dl! (Much above the current guidelines).
  • Because of a “plateau” effect of cholesterol, there is no impact on blood cholesterol when adding eggs, and more cholesterol to the diet.

In other words: these people were already consuming cholesterol and saturated fats from other sources, and they had high cholesterol, like most Americans. Adding more cholesterol to a diet already containing 400 mg/day will rarely cause even higher cholesterol levels.

Eggs Are a No-Brainer

I choose not to listen to the “wisdom” of egg-industry funded studies. I spent some time reviewing the studies, and they all suffer from the flaws I have outlined.

Adding eggs to a healthy diet will not improve the diet. If a person starts with a healthy cholesterol level, it will probably get her in an unhealthy range, thereby increasing her risk of heart disease.

This position will undoubtedly never be popular. The Egg Industry will continue funding studies to “prove” that eggs are healthy and those studies will get media attention. Diet gurus will always generally promote a diet of animal products because that’s what people want. On top of that, the contrarian approach is more popular — claiming that “common wisdom is wrong.”

In this case, now that most people seem to think that eggs are healthy, including many nutritionists, the contrarian approach is where I stand.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

31 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. donny frate says:

    I would suggest you do a little more research pretty weak article

  2. marykays1 says:

    Thank you for sharing and for allowing us to comment. I believe it’s carbs and sugar that increase our cholesterol to unhealthy levels. You need cholesterol to make hormones etc. why even Kevin Gianni had the testosterone (low) level of a 70 year-old man while in his thirties while eating a predominantly vegan/low -fat diet due to very low cholesterol numbers. .

    I also know many who consume lots of eggs. I have read many places that it is the body’s own production of HMG Co-A Reductase that creates the higher cholesterol numbers and watched my vegetarian husband’s cholesterol come down when he reduced sugar and carbs and increased his eggs dramatically once I started raising chickensa.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Mary. Association does not mean causation. Low cholesterol often happens during many illnesses but it’s not a CAUSE of those illnesses. Low cholesterol is the norm in all thriving and healthy cultures. See the article I linked, which references all the studies on this topic.

  3. RL says:

    Your article does not address the issue of how the cholesterol guidelines were developed. According to Dr. Bruce Lipton an AVERAGE of peoples blood readings were taken and used as the guidelines….this did not take into consideration that some people have higher than normal readings than others NATURALLY. This meant that for some their readings were ‘normal’. He uses the analogy of height. We don’t medicate anyone who is shorter or taller than the average. Those who were deemed too have high of a cholesterol level were put on drugs which had side effects that caused difficulties in 90% of those who used them. This begs one to wonder whether the treatment is as beneficial as claimed.

    I am not so sure I agree with your statement that eating eggs would increase a persons cholesterol level..it would depend on their ‘normal’ reading and how many eggs they eat daily.

  4. Tatjana says:

    I agree entirely with your argument that egg yolks are better to avoid, because of cholesterol. The question remains concerning egg whites. Are egg whites a decent source of protein? Can egg whites be used by people with leaky gut or autoimmune disease? In general, it is an issue of what is a good source of protein. Nuts cause allergy, soy and beans contain anti-nutrients, chicken have too much Omega 6 and inflammatory fat. Fish seems the only acceptable protein source, but is it?

  5. Thank you Frederic! I have been looking for something definitive. I have become vegan, something I never expected that I would do. The evidence is just too strong, and I am feeling better, perhaps even much better. But I am worried about my brain needing choline. I was taking organic soy lecithin, but I read something that scared me off that and i dropped it a little before I dropped all animal products. What do you suggest for choline? i am forgetting words, and it seems worse since I dropped choline, and then eggs. Perhaps you would address that.

    Thanks. I loved your article.

    Barb

  6. Fred says:

    Hello,

    Isn’t our brains made up of 25% cholesterol? This would mean that in order for the brain to function properly it would benefit from the cholesterol that is in eggs?

    • Tom says:

      Actually no; the brain is 78% water, 8% protein, 1% carbohydrate, and only 10-12% fat. Of the lipids, cholesterol is only 2-3%–NOT 25%. By your logic, we should focus on drinking water and consuming fats.

      However, for the brain to function properly, it uses glucose. Again, using your logic we should then focus on consuming table sugar. :-/

      Composition does not equate to consumption. A car is almost entirely metal. But to run it needs gasoline. 😉

  7. Hi Renegade,
    You are totally misinformed about “eggs”. There is no “scientific” research condemning cholesterol in eggs.
    Our brains need cholesterol to function & without it we can’t regrow our brain cells. Eggs have many nutrients especially in yolks required by our bodies.
    But it’s a personal choice whether one eats them or not.
    I have a boiled egg every day & my cardiovascular system is just fine. Recent ultra-scan of my carotid arteries revealed no blockages in any arteries.
    Many comments here make the same salient points.
    It’s a personal choice to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle for environmental reasons or because one likes cute & cuddly animals.

  8. Liam Vogel says:

    Great article, Frederic. I do believe you nailed it. I am a bit disappointed in the replies you’ve gotten to this point. It seems I’m the only one who agrees that you are using SCIENCE to make your point. Everyone else seems to want to believe the egg industry b.s. to the point that they are going to accept it simply because it’s what they WANT! I say they can believe what they want… but that doesn’t make it TRUE! I’m not sure you’re having much success (yet), but at least you’re doing a good job TRYING to enlighten people on this topic! Thanks!

  9. Hubert says:

    Hi Fred,

    In the whole discussion around animal products, in this case eggs, people NEVER (to my knowledge) talk about the difference between raw animal producs and coocked, baked or otherwise damaged animal products. For example you say:
    “Here’s one thing that is NOT controversial: eggs are the second overall most common food allergen (after milk in children), and they are a very common cause of food poisoning through salmonella.”
    This is information based on heated eggs which is a completely different product from the raw egg.
    We have no information about the quality, being a food allergen or not, of raw eggs (meat, diary, nuts etc)

    You also talk about eggs being a source of cholesterol as if cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol is a building and repair material of the body. So where there is a problem, there is cholesterol. It is not the CAUSE of the problem. So the cholesterol in the egg, especially the raw egg, is not harmful.

    In short: this article, to me, contains no helpful information. But I do value you work Fred,
    Thanks for what you do)
    Hubert.

  10. kalyani says:

    We have 6 hen and lots of wonderful eggs..i eat boiled every mourning- very great….
    I am 92…strong and healthy

  11. Diana says:

    With all due respect, Frederic, you are wrong. Eggs are an ideal food, but they need to be organic, truly free range, and not over cooked. There really just aren’t enough studies for you to say that eating eggs will raise cholesterol if you are already eating a healthy diet and practicing healthy living. The body, especially your brain, needs cholesterol, it is the precursor to many hormones, it is a needed nutrient. We did a test in our own home because I was worried that my husband was eating too many eggs a day. He eats anywhere from 2-4 eggs as an easy snack thru out the day. This keeps him from eating bad things and satisfies his hunger in between meals. His cholesterol has never been high (around 170) before he started this habit, and recently checked because his doc was worried too. No significant rise in cholesterol. My whole family eats a lot of eggs because our chickens give them to us and it is part of our sustainable living. None of us have high cholesterol. Please don’t write such a strong statements to your readers because they are far from being true. On the other hand, I will not eat an egg produced by CAFO farming.

    • Hi Diana. I would suggest checking out this study: http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/43/11/2142
      Total cholesterol is not the number to watch. Rather, LDL cholesterol is. 170 mg/dl total cholesterol sounds high. But LDL is the number to watch and it must ideally be below 70 mg/dl. I seriously doubt anyone can eat 2-4 eggs a day and have an LDL cholesterol of under 70 mg/dl without medication. That would be quite unusual.

  12. PW says:

    Hello Fred, While I found your article to be interesting, it would have been more helpful if you had provided more info on the nutritional value of the simple egg, rather than just taking the “No side” because of the cholesterol factor.
    ie. What are the benefits?
    If I have the complete picture, I can make an informed choice. I might decide to eliminate eggs from my diet or just cut back to two or three per week.

  13. Linda says:

    Just wanted to say, great article, I really believe eggs are not a great food for long term use. Besides I prefer not to use animals to produce my food. Way too much risk in what the hens are given, disease and suffering of animals. Not everyone can buy organic free range eggs, it is not sustainable. Sorry a lot of people want to stick up for their egg diets, reminds me of meat eaters. They just can’t accept that plants are better, more sustainable and healthier and we don’t have to keep an using animals for food which contributes to decline of the environment.

  14. Alan says:

    We need Cholesterol! It is NOT a true indicator of Cardiovascular Dis-ease. The true indicator is homocysteine one of my friends has “Perfect” Cholesterol which the “Practicing Western medicine doctors” monitors giving Him FALSE hope of health when He has a heart attack. Then in the Hospital He finds the real cause was his homocysteine levels were way wrong. Low cholesterol leads to cognitive decline and all sorts of other physiological problems like low hormone levels.

  15. Did you know that egg is the best good source of lutein and zeaxanthin for the health of your eyes? No wonder you see so many people wearing glasses, even small children. Of course you can rely on special capsules but food should be your medecine. And please don’t worry about cholesterol it is a way that pharmaceutical companies frighten people to be able to sell their statin pills that makes people blind. And I know what I am talking about because I have three people in my family who are completly blind after taking those pills and there eyes were perfectly healthy before, it is not a coincidence. What a shame!

  16. brihaspati says:

    DAndavat from India West Bengal

    Congratulations on your very courageous writing about eggs.

    3O years ago, we wrote some short lines about this ; it is in french – nevertheless I understand you are proficient in french and too a friend from Albert Mossieri ; very good!
    You can translate and publish if you want.

    Have a nice day and thanks you for doing your best for a better planet!

    With all my admiration,

    yrs

    Here is the paper
    I il try to say you in pDF

    Les œufs (de quelque animal que ce soit) ne sont jamais inclus dans l’alimentation védique traditionnelle. Même de nos jours (où l’influence de l’Occident s’étend pourtant sur toutes les contrées du monde, y compris les plus reculées), en Inde, aucun yogi digne de ce nom ne daignerait toucher un met contenant des œufs. Les raisons pratiques en sont nombreuses ; nous pourrons développer ce sujet à loisir au cours des stages. Pour satisfaire votre curiosité, dans l’immédiat, voici au moins un début d’explication scientifique concernant les méfaits de l’œuf sur la santé. NB. Le label “bio” ne change rien aux problèmes soulevés ci-dessous.

    ? Un seul œuf contient plus de cholestérol que le corps humain ne puisse supporter en une journée entière. D’où, entre autres, migraines, HTA et malaises cardiaques.

    ? Les salmonelles, si dangereuses, grouillent entre autres sur les œufs. Étant invisibles et inodores, elles sont difficiles à détecter, de même qu’à éliminer (le froid ne les tue pas). Maux de tête, diarrhée, nausées ne sont que le prélude à ce grave empoisonnement alimentaire.
    Les laboratoires vérifient de temps à autre qu’elles ne dépassent pas le seuil prétendu “tolérable”, mais c’est l’intérieur de l’œuf qu’ils analysent, alors que ces bacilles fourmillent également sur la coquille ! La contamination par simple contact est immédiate… Et si on nettoie la coquille, on la prive de son vernis protecteur, censé être imperméable aux parasites.

    ? Les cristaux de phosphates, qui encrassent tellement les reins, proviennent surtout de la consommation d’œufs (et de matières cadavériques). De ce fait, les reins ne sont plus capables d’assurer leur rôle de filtre, et les toxines du corps s’accumulent. Les risques de calculs, goutte, arthrite (etc.) sont multipliés.

    ? Les œufs (de même que les poulets) contiennent de fortes proportions d’un allergène très puissant : le phényl-iso-thiocyanate (PIT). Ce dérivé du cyanure, destiné par la Nature à protéger les petits contre d’éventuels prédateurs, n’est que très difficilement et lentement éliminé par le foie (et encore, dans le meilleur des cas)… L’encrassement est inévitable, et la douleur peut affecter instantanément les personnes sujettes par exemple aux rhumatismes dits allergiques.
    La science moderne confirme que les deux dangereux allergènes (dues à une protéine) de l’œuf peuvent créer de graves problèmes de digestion (nausée, dysenterie), de peau (démangeaisons atroces) ou de respiration (étouffement). L’allergène du blanc peut même être mortel (anaphylaxies, etc.). Il est donc prudent de ne jamais accepter de préparation dont l’étiquette affiche “ovo” ou “albumine”, ces mots signifiants présence d’œufs.

    ? La malvine, “catalyseur” très dangereux pouvant par exemple déclencher une crise d’épilepsie, existe notablement dans l’œuf (et le poulet).

    ? L’œuf contient d’effroyables proportions de nickel, d’où le risque nettement accru de calvitie, troubles de la prostate ou cancer du sein, entre autres réjouissances…

    ? La vitamine B8 (ou H, biotine), normalement produite par l’intestin de l’être sain, peut être détruite par l’avidine, enzyme contenue dans le blanc d’œuf cru. D’où carence en vitamine B8… D’où risque de chute intempestive des cheveux, acidose, troubles neurologiques graves (retard psychomoteur, convulsions, ataxie), etc.

    NB. Réécoutez, si vous les avez déjà, le MP3 “Auto-guérison pour tous”, et vous en saurez bien plus encore…

    En plus de ces quelques considérations médicales, ajoutons que la consommation d’œufs n’est pas sattvique du tout. Manger un embryon n’est pas très “éthique”… Même les animaux protègent le plus souvent les petits des autres (ex : une chatte allaitant un petit écureuil orphelin, la louve de Romulus et Remus) ! Et quand bien même l’œuf ne serait pas fécondé, il évoque alors l’équivalent des “menstruations” des mammifères…
    En conclusion, mieux vaut donc opter pour l’alimentation védique consacrée, laquelle est par définition sattvique et propice à la santé. C’est cela le “gout supérieur” ! De nombreuses recettes sont à votre disposition (livrets, cassettes, stages), toutes plus délicieuses les unes que les autres, faciles et rapides à réaliser au quotidien.

    Vous découvrirez combien il est facile et aussi économique de préparer des crêpes, gâteaux, beignets, sans utiliser d’œufs.
    En attendant de gouter à ces délices, notez que l’effet de texture de l’œuf peut être obtenu avec bien d’autres liants qui eux sont végétaux et ne présentent aucun des dangers de l’œuf. Par exemple :
    ¤ Issus d’algues rouges : L’agar-agar et les carraghénanes qui augmentent l’immunité face aux virus ; très riches en Calcium, etc.
    ¤ Les gommes : xanthane, guar (anti-cholestérol, extrait d’une légumineuse), celles de l’arbre tara, arabiques (en cataplasme soignent les furoncles), d’excellents coupe-faims pour ceux qui veulent maigrir.
    ¤ Le conjac (bulbe ressemblant à la pomme de terre), excellent contre l’obésité par boulimie, le diabète et le cancer.

  17. Paul says:

    Hi Frederic

    Very good article. Just addressing some replies. It is true that cholesterol is in the brain and is the raw material for
    hormones, including sex hormones. The implication being without outside sources of cholesterol your body will have none. Actually your body can produce its own cholesterol even from unsaturated vegetable fat sources. Too high a level of sex hormones can produce prostate or breast cancer.

    High cholesterol is only one, but a very important, cause of heart disease. High homocysteine levels, too much omega 6 fatty acids and too little omega 3, low level systemic inflammation, high acidosis and congestion in the interstitial fluid are other causes. The right vegan diet with B-12 and D supplementation can address these problems. Eggs are high in sulphur containing amino acids thereby contributing to acidosis.

  18. After reading this mince, I went away and consumed half a dozen raw egg yolks.

  19. Firebird7478 says:

    1985 called. They want their article back.

  20. Chris Jones says:

    Absolute nonsense.

    Comments are closed for this post.