Benefits of Eggs
Consider the egg: It is a dietary demon chockfull of
artery-clogging cholesterol, or a perfect food, rich in healthful nutrients? Put to a vote, “dietary demon” would probably come out on top, even though “perfect food” is closer to the truth. Let’s unscramble the egg facts and myths.
Fact: An egg is a good source of nutrients.
For less than two rupees, you get 6 grams of protein, a number of heart-healthy nutrients, such as folate, vitamins E and smattering of vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also good source of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss.
Eggs have a lot of cholesterol.
The average large egg contains 121 mg of cholesterol. As foods go, that’s quite a bit, rivaled only by single servings of liver, prawns and duck meat.
All of that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries.
Not so. In the average person only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes directly into the blood. But first -a little science.
Eggs' reputation as good food took a tumble in the 1960s when researchers first made the connection between heart disease and high cholesterol levels in the blood. The American Heart Association (AHA) and other influential groups set an upper limit for daily cholesterol intake at 300 mg a day (200 mg if you have heart disease) and warned people to avoid eating egg yolks.
There were two big problems with these
recommendations. The upper limit of 300 mg a day seems to have been chosen not for a specific scientific reason but because it was half of the average American's daily cholesterol intake at the time. And the warning on egg consumption was based on the logical - but incorrect - assumption that cholesterol in food translated directly into cholesterol levels in the blood.
Cholesterol is made naturally in the body of all animals and humans. It is necessary for the production of hormones and vitamin D, and to keep cell walls healthy. The liver makes most of the cholesterol needed by the human body, so you shouldn't have to worry about getting "enough" from your food. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, and milk products and, of course, eggs. Much of the past panic over egg consumption comes from the multiple uses of the term "cholesterol" and confusion between cholesterol in food and unhealthy cholesterol levels in the blood. Dietary cholesterol does not automatically become blood cholesterol when you eat it.
Studies dating back to a classic 1950 experiment carried out by pioneering Harvard cardiologist Paul Dudley White and colleagues show that the amount of cholesterol in food generally has a small impact on cholesterol in the blood. That's why prawns and shellfish are considered healthy foods even though they're high in dietary cholesterol. In fact consuming saturated fat and trans fat (hydrogenated fat) generally contributes more to unhealthy serum-cholesterol levels. And although eating eggs may raise cholesterol levels to some degree, they do not affect the small, dense LDL cholesterol that pose the greatest risk of heart disease
Eating eggs is badfor your heart.
A study by the US Food and Nutrition Database Research Center at Michigan State University, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2000, showed that risk of CVD in men and women did not increase with increasing egg consumption. In fact, quite the opposite!
Focusing on the nutritional benefits of eggs, as well as dietary versus serum cholesterol levels, the study suggested that benefits to the heart from the nutrients found in whole eggs (such as polyunsaturated fat, folate and vitamins A and E) actually may outweigh the potentially adverse effects of their cholesterol. In the published results, researchers
Won O. Song and Jean M. Kerver, asserted that eggs make important nutritional contributions to people's diet, and that relatively frequent egg consumption did not contribute negatively to serum cholesterol levels.
indicated that the egg consumers actually had lower serum cholesterol levels than those subjects who abstained from eggs. While men who ate two to three eggs per week had slightly lower levels than men who consumed four eggs or more per week, both groups had lower serum cholesterol levels than those who abstained completely. And in women, those who ate four or more eggs per week had the lowest levels of all.
Song and Kerver concluded, "Our work repudiates the hypothesis that increased egg consumption leads to increased serum cholesterol concentrations, and also adds to the growing body of literature which supports the nutritional benefits of eggs." Short of labeling eggs as "medicinal," the researchers cautioned, "Although our results suggest that higher egg consumption is associated with lower serum cholesterol, this study should not be used as a basis for recommending higher egg consumption for regulation of serum cholesterol."
The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease - not on cholesterol levels or other intermediaries - also found no connection between the two. In this study of nearly 120,000 initially healthy men and women, those who ate one or more eggs a day were no more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke or to have A died of cardiovascular disease over a 14-year study period than those who ate fewer than one egg per week.
Thus, in 2000, the heart experts eased up on eggs. Instead of specifically recommending that we avoid or limit eggs to a certain number per week, the AHA's dietary guidelines focused on limiting foods high in saturated fat and keeping cholesterol intake under 300 mg a day, and acknowledge that you can hit this target "even with periodic consumption of eggs and shellfish."
Guidelines, unfortunately, aren't aimed at the individual. That's a problem when it comes to dietary cholesterol in general and eggs in particular. In many people, cholesterol in food barely affects the amount of cholesterol in the blood. In some, though, it has a substantial effect.
Do you need eggs in your diet? Not at all - you can get along just fine without them. But they are an excellent source of complete protein, have other healthful nutrients, are easy to fix and easy to chew, and don't cost much The latest work on the health effects of eggs doesn't give us the green light for daily two-egg omelets with sausages and fries. But eggs are a good alternative to puris and parathas fried in ghee/oil, sugary cereals, or snacks laden with saturated fat.