Wednesday 3 July 2013

Week 27 Nutrition Habit: Eggs Yea or Nay?

If there was blogging back in the 80's no doubt people would be blogging about how bad eggs are for you. "Don't touch those yolks," people who have said, "they are loaded with cholesterol and the ultimate evil - saturated fat!" Some may have encouraged the fat-free high protein egg white,  but most just pushed some more processed (but fortified) cereal on you claiming it is, "part of a complete breakfast". (Thanks to the marketing efforts of the cereal companies, you may have ate some processed cereal for breakfast this morning). So if we fast-forward 30 years until today. Where are we with eggs? What does the research say? Are they an important part of diet geared to maximizing health, performance and body composition? And, more importantly, are they right for you? In week 27 of our 52 Weeks to Better Nutrition and a New You series, let's look at some answers to these questions and help you develop a new habit.

The benefits of eggs
In his excellent book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why Dr. Jonny Bowden gives the following benefits to eggs:
  • Plentiful
  • Inexpensive
  • Loaded with vitamins
  • Once of the best sources of protein
  • Great source of choline which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function as well as cell membrane health, helps to lower homocysteine (this is a risk factor for heart disease), helps prevent the accumulation of cholesterol and fat in the liver and assists with memory and thinking
  • High in lutein and zeaxanthin which are very important for eye health
  • May protect against breast cancer
The potential cons of eggs
  • Eggs are on the list of foods that people commonly have allergies or intolerance to.
  • We still lack research on egg consumption for athletes eating much higher levels than the average person
What Does the Research Say?
While  comprehensive literature review on this topic is well beyond the scope of this post, I did find a cool 2013 study that I'll quickly share. It is a meta-analysis, which is a research study where they statistically examine the findings of several related studies. Their conclusion:
"Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke." 
Reference: Rong Y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal. 2013 Jan 7;346:e8539. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8539.

My personal experiment
As a teenager, I avoided eggs because of food intolerance issues. Later as an adult, I found that if I ate good quality eggs, I could eat then. Because they are a cheap, fast, easy-to-prepare source of protein, I started eating about 4 eggs per meal 4-5 mornings a week. What did this do to my cholesterol? I few years ago, I bought life insurance. I had the usual medical assessment and asked that the results be sent to our university's doctor. He emailed me and told me I had one of the lowest levels of LDL (that's the bad cholesterol) he had ever seen. Now, in saying that, I'm not recommending you eat eggs, but rather encouraging anyone choosing to eat eggs to find out for themselves how eggs effect their bodies.

Your Application

  • If you have been in a habit of just having cereal for breakfast you are hurting your health, performance and body composition. Consider eggs instead.One of my favorites is scrambled with chopped veggies (e.g. spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc).
  • If you think you might have an intolerance to eggs, avoid them. If you want to be sure, talk to your doctor or appropriate health care provider about food intolerance testing. Many naturopath doctors do this.
  • Always apply the 1-2 hour test. If you feel bad after eating them, then avoiding them - at least for a while. 
  • Remember to individualize your nutrition. If eating eggs negatively effects your cholesterol levels, then avoid them.
  • If you like eggs and your body does as well, then enjoy.
  • If you like eggs, try not to eat them every day as this can increase the risk of developing an intolerance to eggs and thus preventing you from eating this super food.
  • Try cooking in a variety of ways.

It is time to make the switch!

In case you have missed any of the previous habits in this series, check out the links below:
Week 24: Farm Markets
Week 23: Restuarant Guide 
Week 22: Eat Natural


  1. What exactly is considered "good quality" eggs? I have been having local, brown, free-run eggs lately but have no idea where they stack up compared to other types of eggs.

  2. Those sound great. The challenge with eggs is that terms such as "free-run" can be loosly interpreted. Does that mean always free or 15 min a day? In a store it is hard to tell the actual farming conditions. Some are concerned that with legal loop holes you may be paying more for eggs that is really not any different from the regular eggs. The best option when possible is to buy direct from a farmer so you can see the chickens' environment.