What’s Up with Eggs? Good? Bad?

Gotta love nutrition headlines, it’s like fashion - what’s old is new again. I thought we put this one to bed a few years ago when the Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed cholesterol as a nutrient of concern, but here we go again. Guess the ‘yoke’ was on us. Bad joke, I know.

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What’s Up with Eggs? Are They Good or Bad?

Eggs Will Still Be The Star Of My Breakfast Plate

I eat eggs, the whole egg, multiples times a week for breakfast and sometimes for dinner. Hello, breakfast for dinner! This recent study isn’t going to stop me from eating these nutrient-rich bombshells. Eggs are a powerhouse food that are packed with protein, folate, choline, zinc, iron and Vitamins A, D, E, and B12. And please, eat the yolks, that’s where most of those nutrients hang out.

Cue The Media To Sensationalize This Story

You may have seen the headlines in the NY Times, “Are Eggs Bad for Your Health? Maybe!” or in Forbes, “Are Eggs Good or Bad? How You Should Interpret This Latest Study”. So let’s take a look at this study “Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption with Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality” published in the well-respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Time to Break It Down

I took the time to read the actual study (zzzzzz...boring) and am breaking it down for you.

  1. Observational Study. So this right here should be enough to shut down the conversation. This was an observational study, meaning they observe an effect but can’t prove causation. In other words, there is no real proof that eggs are bad. The researchers even stated in the limitations of the study, “The study findings are observational and can’t establish causality.”

  2. Study Sample. This study looked at the participant data from 6 different cohort studies. Around 30,000 people over 17.5 years. But here’s the thing, they were only interviewed about their diets at the BEGINNING of the study. Think about that, how many times has your overall diet changed over 17.5 years?

  3. Self-Reported Data. All of this data was self reported, and we know that right there leave a lot of room for error. Many people can’t remember what they ate yesterday, let alone what they ate over the past week or month. This study also didn’t factor in what else in the diet was being eaten.

  4. Statistical Significance. The absolute risk difference was 0.71% and the heart disease risk difference was only 0.47%. When looking at the total cholesterol levels, the difference was no longer significant. So, there is really nothing to talk about.

Let’s Lay This Egg Debate to Rest (for now)

As you can see, there are lots of holes in the study and while it made it in to the prestigious JAMA publication, the media took it to new heights because of the age old debate.

Here’s what we do know about high cholesterol levels in the body:

  1. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t have a huge impact on blood cholesterol. So eat the eggs and shrimp.

  2. Genetics play a BIG role. Some people are predisposed to livers that just make too much cholesterol. If your parents have high cholesterol, your chances are high too.

  3. Diets high in saturated fat and trans fat affect your blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol. So, check yourself on the amount of saturated fat in your diet first. <10% of total calories per day should be saturated fat and if you have cardiovascular disease you want to aim for <7%.

Here’s the permission you need to eat your eggs made your favorite way - scrambled, poached, fried, sunny side up, over easy, or hard boiled. My favorite way, scrambled over avocado toast.