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Eggs - Friend or Foe?

Over the last 50 years, there have been various contradicting (and frankly confusing) research that have surfaced about the kitchen staple- eggs.

The most immediate chronic disease it is linked to, is cardiovascular disease and having a negative impact on one's heart health. For years since 1968, this was what was believed to be the reason for America's rise in CVD incidences.

But eggs are in fact, a wondrous food. If we think about its place in the natural world, eggs contain all the nutrients to develop into a newborn. Amongst these, are B12, Vitamin A, Riboflavin (B2). More commonly, eggs are known for its abundance in protein, and fats (saturated, and healthy fats (including Omega3). And in 1999, this was supported by a large long term population study, documenting that there was no significant difference in CVD risk in over 117 000 men and women in those consuming one egg weekly vs one egg daily. Slowly and surely, more and more studies were published to abolish the outdated hypothesis that the dietary cholesterol in eggs was correlated to serum cholesterol, thus having a negative impact on cardiovascular health.

But lo and behold, an observational JAMA study published March 2019 once again challenged the consensus that it was not the eggs themselves that had worsened one's cardiovascular health. This comes after almost 20 years of nutritional research showing that eggs are not the main culprit for CVD. It was shocking to many clinicians, to say the least. How could we be wrong again?

So what is really the answer?

We have to stop being so cut and dry with foods. Too often we're trying to categorize and sort whole foods that contain a numerous and complex combination of nutrients, into "good" and "bad".

If you are someone who has significant CVD risk (family history, high blood pressure, past history of heart disease) , consider limiting the use of eggs in your diet, and seek more plant-based proteins for heart-protective properties. But still include eggs, as they contain other nutrients that may be protective of other diseases (eg: choline for Alzheimer's disease).

Or, if you are interested in weight loss, recognize that eggs have an abundant amount of nutrition stuffed into a very small package. So treat it as such. If your goal is to lose weight, be aware that they are a small quantity of food that packs a significant amount of calories.

But if you do not have CVD risk, are not interested in losing weight, but lead a healthy and active lifestyle, eggs are an excellent food to include more regularly in your diet. Consider having them every day or every other day.

Speak with your nutrition clinician to get an idea what an appropriate amount of eggs for you might be, given your nutritional and health goals.