Eggs are an integral part of our breakfast menu. Their consumption has however declined significantly over the last three decades, amidst rising concerns regarding cholesterol and fat constituents. Nevertheless, with the recent narrative pivoting towards encouraging ad lib consumption and questioning prior anxieties, the humble Egg has now returned to our tables!
What is the “Truth” About Eggs?
Eggs have been subject to two types of studies – short term and long term. Short term studies are executed rigorously in a controlled fashion, but on small populations – a few hundred people at most. These studies conclude that the daily consumption of Eggs up to 2-4 per day have a minimal influence on one’s lipid (cholesterol) levels. They claim Eggs are safe, at least on paper.
Long term studies are population-based, involving hundreds and thousands of individuals. They’re conducted over a 5 to 20-year period. While such studies should expectedly be more reliable, they suffer from the disadvantage of being loosely conducted, mostly depending on individuals filling questionnaires every 3 to 6-months. Most of these have concluded that eating whole Eggs, even higher than 7 per week, do not correlate with an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, or mortality.
Other trends noted for higher than 7 Eggs per week consumption include possibly increased incidence of diabetes, heightened chances of heart attacks for diabetic individuals, and reduced risk of strokes (especially brain haemorrhage). But it must be mentioned that the evidence for these trends is not solid as it originates from subgroup analysis (i.e., the studies were not conducted to test these hypotheses).
Furthermore, only studies conducted in the United States show a 39% increase in the incidence of diabetes for those consuming higher than 7 Eggs a week. Studies conducted in Europe and Asia do not show such trends and are neutral as far as such risks are concerned. Why would this be?
This could have resulted from the possibility that people consuming more Eggs in the US also lead unhealthier lifestyles overall (as they were unaware of, or ignored Government guidelines to avoid a high cholesterol diet, in force till 2015), e.g. smoking, high consumption of processed red meat, less exercise etc. This was not the case for other demographies, as most other countries did not have specific recommendations to avoid eggs or meat for a healthy lifestyle.
Even American guidelines have now removed the restriction on Eggs (in 2015), accepting that they have no association with heart attacks or mortality.
What Are the Key Takeaways?
It is quite safe to eat an Egg daily, even two. If one regularly consumes higher than 1 Egg a day, they should maintain an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. Getting one’s lipid profile checked every 2 years is advisable for all adults. A check is also recommended for those who regularly consume meat. For diabetics, a higher consumption of Eggs may be allowed under the supervision of a doctor, who can track the patient’s lipid profile and keep other risk factors under check.
How Should You Consume Eggs?
Soft boiled and poached Eggs are the best. Occasional consumption of fried Eggs or omelets, especially if cooked in healthy oil, is acceptable. There is no need to discard the yolk as it has healthy fats and vitamins. In fact, Egg yolk has almost 50% Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and 16% polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), both of which are beneficial for overall health, while the rest is constituted of saturated fat.
In summary, if you eat Eggs – please carry on. If your intake is up to 7 Eggs per week, there are no concerns, even if you’re a diabetic.
You think you know what is good for your health and what isn't? Try your luck at these 10 Questions here.
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