Sunday, August 26, 2012

Let's talk about eggs

   There is so much conflicting information about eggs from the medical community, no wonder the general populace is always scared or confused to consume eggs. One day the eggs are in the other day the eggs are out. There are studies demonizing eggs, and there are studies telling us the virtues of eggs. But no matter what the source of the study, the ugly cholesterol is always mentioned as one of the negatives for eating eggs. A friend of mine recently sent me a study that he saw on CNN (source of world's most accurate news...wink. wink.) about egg yolks being equally as bad as smoking. Apparently Dr. J. David Spence, a professor of neurology at Western University in Canada found a strong correlation between eating egg yolks and hardening of the carotid artery (atherosclerosis). The study surveyed 1200 men and women with pr-existing heart condition and asked them questions about their diet. The more egg yolks they consume, the higher the build up of the plaque in their carotid artery. The study did not take into account the overall diet and many other lifestyle factors of the participating subjects. In other words the researchers had no idea how the subjects developed atherosclerosis to begin with. They simply asked them questions about how many egg yolks the subject consumed?, how much they smoked?, and physical activity of the subject. Once again this is a survey, the subject can say whatever they want. I usually don't remember what I consumed for lunch yesterday. I immediately Googled and there was plenty of newspapers and television coverage that picked up the study as news worthy, and every single media outlet sensationalized the news by making statements like you may want to think twice before consuming eggs. This is the sad power of the media. CNN even had an expert doctor commenting on the study with the same hum drum message of cholesterol is bad and the hardening of the arteries is bad and will eventually lead to a stroke or a heart attack. The expert doctor even goes on to say you should consume egg substitutes or only egg whites. You can watch the CNN coverage here. The study is too recent and probably has not been reviewed by a peer group but was picked up the media. The bad science in the nutritional field coupled with sensationalized media is a sure recipe for a confused public.

   So Let's talk about eggs and see how bad they actually are? The nutritional chart of a jumbo egg (63 grams) is listed below (chart taken from

   As you can observe that the biggest percentage staring at you is from, once again that ugly word cholesterol. Yes, there is 266mg of cholesterol, and if you are like me who consumes about 3 eggs per day on the average, you have just consumed a whopping 798mg of cholesterol. There is no room to consume another iota of cholesterol for the rest of the day, let alone next couple of days. Three eggs will blow away your recommended daily allowance (RDA) on a normal 2000 calorie based diet. But, there is more to eggs than what the above simplified nutritional chart shows. Eggs are full of lot more essential nutrients. If you eat an egg or multiple eggs per day, there is no need to take any vitamin supplements. Here is why:

   As you can see from the above table that an egg is packed with an abundant of essential nutrients. If you eat an egg per day there is no need to take that multivitamin one a day centrum tablet. It makes perfect sense, because a new life will be created from this tiny package, the necessary nutrients to create a living, breathing life form are ingeniously packaged in this small delicate orb. So still why such animosity towards these delicious edible packages that make pretty much everything taste good? Once again the hang up is on the high cholesterol content of an egg. I consume on the average 2-3 eggs per day. I have done this for the past year. Yet my triglycerides and LDL went down and HDL went up. How is this to be explained? Perhaps the culprit is something else? 

   Of course story of eggs is not complete if you don't talk about cholesterol. So let's talk briefly about cholesterol. For the last several years cholesterol has been blamed for all heart related issues. The problem is that when doctors perform open heart surgeries and examine other heart related complications, they find cholesterol stuck in the arteries forming plaque. The forming of the plaque eventually constrict the passage of the arteries and hence reducing the blood flow and eventually leading to a blood clot that causes a stroke. Of course, if you happen to be on the crime scene all the time people eventually will begin to give you funny looks and few eye brows will be raised. This is where cholesterol is today. Yet cholesterol is a useful entity, it is responsible for maintaining and building cell membranes. Cell membranes are kind of important to our well being. Cell membranes hold the structure of the cells together. Because of this function the cholesterol has to be circulated throughout the body by blood plasma. Since cholesterol has to travel throughout the body to build and maintain existing cell membranes then why is it getting stuck in the arteries and causing all kinds of coronary related issues? If nature intended the cholesterol to be circulated throughout the body, then why does it get stuck in the arteries? We are talking about LDL (low density lipoprotein). This is the cholesterol that manages to get itself trapped in the arteries. The problem is something different altogether. The actual culprit is the inflammation of the arteries due to consumption of grains. The problematic proteins contained in grains (lectin and gluten) end up escaping into our bodies undigested. Once inside the body, these proteins are confused by the immune system as foreign bodies. The immune system dutifully launches an attack to eliminate the foreign objects. The end result is a body in a state of autoimmunity. Which simply means, that body's immune system is on all the time. The autoimmunity causes the organs and arteries to inflame. The inflammation ends up narrowing the passage of the arteries and poor cholesterol whose responsibility is to travel the arteries and rebuild cell membranes ends up getting stuck in these shrunken arteries. 

   If you eliminate grains and simple carbs from your diet, the body eventually returns to its natural state,  the immune system is throttled down and eventually shuts off and only turns on when there is a legitimate foreign body object present in the body. In the absence of grains the internal inflammation simply goes away and the arteries and other blood vessels return to their normal size. The cholesterol is able to travel all over the body and performs its job of rebuilding cell membranes. In this condition, the dietary cholesterol is used up the body and body does not produce extra cholesterol. A diet high in cholesterol is perfectly acceptable because there is no danger of cholesterol forming plaque inside the arteries. Most often a diet high in cholesterol intake still improves the overall lipid profile. 

   The recommendation of course is to eat eggs from chickens raised in free range farms. The eggs from free range chickens not fed a constant diet of grains naturally have high content of omega 3 fats. These eggs and chicken meat is much better than commercially raised chickens, who are fed a constan diet of grains, have no room to move about freely, and are given copious amounts of antibiotics. Few eggs consumed per day on a grain free diet are perfectly healthy, satisfying, and provide many essential nutrients. On the flip side few eggs eaten per day on a high grain diet are bad and will eventually give you a coronary. This is what the researchers, medical community, government, and large corporations making grain products are not willing to acknowledge. So it is time to stop blaming the eggs for all coronary ills of the society. There are other culprits, disguised under health food label that are far worse than eggs. I think it is about time we looked at grains standing on the side as the perfectly behaved child with a halo on his head.


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