The idea of whether eggs are good for you or not changes as often as the villain in a James Bond film. And when the opinion is on the negative side, it’s often made out that eating an egg could dispatch you even faster than said villain going up against 007 himself. So what should you believe? It doesn’t take a world class egotistical spy to solve this one, but I accepted the mission anyway…
Bond references aside, this is a serious issue. I’m willing to bet there is a lot of people who avoid eggs completely – or only eat them on rare occasions (or the weekend, like my dad does) – because they are scared stiff of what eggs may or may not do to them. The unknown is a scary thing, but I’m here to allay your fears.
Why people are scared in the first place
The slandering of eggs has similar origins to one of the myths I recently refuted in my fat-loss: myth-busting article – fat is the biggest enemy to a someone on a diet. While that myth was based on people’s fear of weight-gain, this one is more to do with health.
The fact that eggs contain high levels of cholesterol was put out to the world, and some nutritionally uneducated person at the time thought “hang on… isn’t high cholesterol a bad thing for my heart?” cogs of sub-par understanding whirred away, as they linked the two ideas together and came to the conclusion – eggs must be bad for my heart! Unfortunately this person’s influence was not at the same low level as their understanding, and the idea caught on to the masses.
If you knew this, you’ve probably also heard that all of this cholesterol can be found in the yolk – and so eating the whites of the egg hasn’t received such a bad rep.
Why this isn’t true
Cholesterol isn’t as simple as that. It’s not just a number, that when it’s high is bad news for your heart, and when it’s low is good news. It’s a substance that is necessary in forming new cell membranes, and essential for growth in babies – and on it’s own, it’s not a problem.
The problems begin when the cholesterol (a lipid) bonds with a protein and forms a lipoprotein (it has to do this to get around, as it cannot dissolve in the bloodstream). This formation splits cholesterol into two types, and you may even have heard of them – HDL and LDL – or good and bad cholesterol, respectively. HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) are essentially different ratios of protein to cholesterol – a molecule with more protein than cholesterol is a HDL, and a molecule with more cholesterol than protein is a LDL.
When HDLs are formed, they travel to the liver and get converted into bile acids – no problem. When LDLs are formed, they attempt the same journey – but they don’t make it to the liver in one piece – leaving behind parts of themselves and causing chaos along the way. This is why LDLs are called bad cholestrol, they are the ones you don’t want a lot of.
Now here’s the bit you want to know – if you have more HDLs than LDLs, then the HDLs will generally keep the LDLs in check and limit their negative effect. But have that ratio skewed the other way – and the LDLs have greater freedom to do you harm.
What this has to do with eggs
In the case of HDLs and LDLs, size does matter. If an LDL is bigger in size, then it’s not as easy for it to pass through blood vessels and leave behind the cholesterol that can bind to other substances and do potential damage. Nutritional studies have shown eggs to promote the size of HDL and LDL particles in the bloodstream. Not only is this, but it’s been shown that eating eggs can increase the amount of cholesterol in HDL – helping to skew that all important ratio of HDLs to LDLs in your favour.
One study performed at Yale Prevention Research Centre in 2010, found no negative effect on endothelial function (a measure of cardiac risk), and no spike in overall cholesterol levels when eating two eggs per day for six weeks. This is just one recent study to come to this result, and there are numerous others that have drawn the same conclusion – the consumption of eggs poses no risk to heart health.
So now you know they aren’t bad… you want to know if they are good
And the answer is… yes!
For numerous reasons;
#1 If you’re into weight-training you might like to know that a single egg contains 6 grams of protein, and has a complete amino acid profile (contains all 9 essential amino acids). If you don’t know what that means, read as: it’s a high quality protein source.
#2 eggs are great for your eyes! they help prevent damage caused by free-radicals, and fend off a number of ocular diseases.
#3 they provide a great source of vitamin B (choline to be exact), which is vital for the proper function of human cells and the regulation of the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
#4 natural source of vitamin D (see my recent article on vitamin D here) which can prevent impairing of skeletal muscle function.
#5 nutritious isn’t even the word for the egg – it’s better than any multivitamin you could take, and is filled to the brim with nutrients such as magnesium and zinc (can increase testosterone production and optimize your sleep), calcium (bones), iron (blood), and potassium (muscles and nerve function, helps lower risk of high blood pressure)
What’s left to say? I’ve shown you why there is no reason to be afraid of the egg, and given you at least 5 reasons (eggsamples) why you should eat them. All without a single pun with the word egg… oops (so close). But it’s 3am, my mind is egghausted, and no one is here to egg me on. I don’t want to eggagerate, but I feel like a shell of a man… my motivation has been eggtinguished… I’m not yokeing… Time for me to eggsit the article while I’m ahead… Eggcellent…