Eggs

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Eggs have been the subject of quite some controversy in the last decade or two. Originally celebrated as almost a superfood, they then had a tough time in the media for a while because of their cholesterol content. Now opinion is swinging back the other way and they have essentially achieved superfood status again, a series of events that superficially can be confusing for those wanting to make sensible decisions about the food that they eat.

So first of all, let’s clear up the cholesterol thing. Having discovered that high cholesterol levels in the blood was associated with an increased risk of heart disease, my predecessors started giving people advice that was very sensible based on the information available – eat less cholesterol, and that means not eating eggs.

Since that time however, further research has shown that eating cholesterol does not particularly increase blood cholesterol levels. It may have a slight effect in some people, but in general for healthy people eating a relatively healthy balanced diet, cholesterol in food including eggs is not particularly associated with high cholesterol or an increased risk of heart disease. It is saturated fat that is the problem, so high fat dairy products and red meats are the ones to watch in terms of cholesterol. A word of caution: if you do have very high cholesterol and your doctor has told you to avoid eggs, best to follow that advice. They know your individual situation and as always, never ignore any advice from your doctor because of anything you read here.

So that’s the cholesterol issue dealt with, eggs are not bad. But are they good? Well in many ways, yes they are – here’s a list of some of their great benefits:

Eye Health

Eggs contain lutein and xeathanthin, both of which are very beneficial to the eyes. They reduce risk of macular degeneration (losing sight as you age) and cataracts.

Protein

6 -7 grams of high quality protein including all of the so-called essential amino acids in each one. This will help keep you well nourished, feeling full for longer and stop you snacking.

Low GI

Eggs contain no carbohydrate. I have nothing against ‘good’, complex fibre based carbs, but eggs will keep your blood sugars nice and steady, none of the nasty sugar rollercoaster highs and lows here.

Breast Cancer

There is some evidence that women eating eggs regularly have a lower risk of breast cancer. While we are waiting for the 21st century holy grail of health, the elusive cancer cure, anything that reduces cancer risk is surely great news.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Yolks contain a moderate amount of fat, but low levels of saturated fat, and with fat comes fat soluble vitamins. Of these, vitamin D is the one to get most excited about because most of us Brits are vitamin D deficient for about half the year due to our inadequate sun exposure. Vitamin D is not found in its natural form in many foods but the humble egg is one of them. So if you can’t afford to jet off for some winter sun then there is another way. And if you are lucky enough to get away have some eggs for breakfast during your hols – might as well stock up properly!

Vitamin B12

Crucial for so many aspects of human health, getting your vitamin B12 is, well, vital. The clue’s in the name. Plenty of that to be found in eggs.

Other Vitamins and Minerals

Too many to mention but all good and all critical to great health.

So there we have it. Eggs are mainly good, containing more nutrients per calorie than any other food, and while they do contain a fair amount of cholesterol and a little saturated fat this appears to be a small price to pay in return for all the benefits, and if you are generally looking after yourself then the evidence suggests that your digestive system will be more than able to mop up a little bit of the bad stuff without any major, long term consequences for most people.

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