Reneging on Egg Yolks

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I heart egg debates. For those new to this blog, I think it’s nonsensical that there are people out there (most of which are well-educated and should know better) who believe that whole eggs are worse for you than cigarettes.

Unfortunately, due to any number of reasons – big food, stupid people on the internet, Dr. Oz – people are very confused on what to eat and what’s actually “good” for you.

Eggs are right up there on the “Defcon 1, DO NOT EAT AT ANY COST OR A BABY UNICORN WILL DIE” list.  

One week they’re a nutritional powerhouse, and the next, Time Magazine does an expose that says that not only will eggs clog up your arteries faster than you can say “five-egg omelet,” but they’ll kick you the balls when you’re not looking, too. 

Jerks!

Suffice it to say, I fall in the camp that believes eggs (and more specifically, egg yolks) are a nutritional powerhouse, and that they’ve been demonized long enough!

Today’s guest post comes to you from current CP intern, and fellow egg-lover, Pat Koch.

Enjoy!

Eggs will kill you…One egg too many and you are heading down a slippery slope towards heart disease.  At least that’s what current nutrition advice would have you believe.

Yet as more and more research comes out, the nutrition community may be starting to change its tune towards the once feared egg yolk.  Eggs are actually healthy, and also the perfect fat loss food.

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

Practically speaking eggs are a cost effective way to get a ton of nutrition.  The fatty yoke is home to the majority of nutrients in eggs.  In one study, daily nutrient intake of people who ate eggs was significantly greater than people who abstained.  Egg eaters had higher levels of vitamins A,E,C, folate, saturated and polyunsaturated fats, and B12.

Also the same study counterintuitively pointed out that people who ate four or more eggs a week had LOWER serum concentrations of cholesterol than those who ate one or less egg.1

Along with the other nutrients, eggs are potent in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that have been theorized to protect against cholesterol becoming oxidized.2   The products of cholesterol oxidation have been well established as a key component in Cardiovascular disease, neurologic disease, and certain cancers.3,4

Hmm…so once again we find a natural food that is conveniently packaged in a certain way that minimizes any harmful aspects of said food, I’m beginning to notice a trend here.

A little known gem about cholesterol is that there are two forms: Dietary cholesterol which is in our food, and serum cholesterol which is in our blood.

When we go to the doctors they are particularly worried about the cholesterol in our blood.  Yet as it turns out dietary cholesterol does not play as large a role in elevating our serum cholesterol as previously believed.

As many as 75 % of people experience a small increase or no increase in blood cholesterol levels when exposed to high amounts of dietary cholesterol, this type of person is known as a normal responder or hypo-responder and is the majority of the population!

The other 25% of people would be known as hyper-responders.  It is important to note that after hyper responders consume cholesterol there is a rise in BOTH LDL and HDL cholesterol.2

Even with a transient rise in Cholesterol…Total Cholesterol (HDL +LDL) is not the end all be all when it comes to predicting heart disease its actually quite a poor predictor, only right about 50% of the time.9

So if total cholesterol doesn’t mean much what is a good predictor of heart disease?

This is where it gets tricky.  The cholesterol classifications of “good” and “bad” are incomplete.  In fact within the “Bad” LDL cholesterol, there are several subtypes of particles that vary with regards to their degree of damage to the arteries.

Small, dense LDL-C and VLDL are two subtypes that have been established as highly arthrogenic as they are easily susceptible to oxidation.5

Funny enough the quickest way to jack up your levels of SD-LDL and VLDL is to eat a diet high in refined carbohydrates and make yourself insulin resistant. 5  Counter intuitively the once feared saturated fat in eggs will increase HDL and LDL cholesterol, but the raise in LDL is mostly a large fluffy sub-type that is mostly benign and not considered arthrogenic. 2, 5

Yes you read that correctly…saturated fat and dietary cholesterol aren’t necessarily bad for you,  depending on the context of your whole diet and that there are no pre-existing medical conditions, of course.

Further research is revealing that saturated may not be associated with heart disease.6,7,8

Note from TG: Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

After going full circle, lets come back to eggs and how even the yolk isn’t only a health food, but theoretically can be a great weight loss food.

Try eating a three egg omelet with some cheese, and a side of fruit vs. a half a bagel with light cream cheese, and a fat free yogurt.  Who will be resisting that lunch time binge better?  Who will have more energy?  The answer is clear.  Eat some real food, stay fuller longer, and therefor lose more fat.

It is time to break away from nutritionism: eat a yolk or two.  The way it’s naturally packaged has got you covered.  Minimally processed foods are superior to processed garbage.  And as always, over time, if you consistently strive to eat and drink from a majority of less processed foods, in reasonable  portions, everything will take care of itself.

Author’s Bio

“Pat Koch is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) through the International Society of Sports Nutrition. After studying at Ithaca College, Pat obtained his undergraduate degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Nutrition. Since then he has been working as a trainer specializing in Sports Performance.  Currently Pat interns at Cressey Performance, and has recently started competing in powerlifting.”

Note from TG:  I know some reading may want to view the citations Pat gave in this post, so I’ll see if he can provide them for me sometime later today, and I’ll try my best to get those up as soon as possible.

UPDATE:  If you click on each number (of the citation) the hyperlink will take you to the study.  In other news – I’m an idiot.

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