Monday, 07 November 2011 00:00

Are Whole Eggs or Egg Whites Better for You? Are they good or bad for your cholesterol?

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The egg is a great source of quality high protein, full of vitamins and minerals that has been branded — in popular perception — as an unhealthy and nutritional untouchable food because of controversy about cholesterol, bad fat and high calories. Until recently, it seemed that no one had the facts right, and only a few were telling the entire truth on the matter.

All we heard about was “nasty fat and cholesterol, making this food a common enemy to a wholesome diet. But it seems, the medical and scientific communities were wrong. It was previously thought that eggs raised blood cholesterol levels — one of the main causes of heart disease. Since the yolk in a single large egg contains fat, so it was only natural for scientist to assume that eggs clogged up people’s arteries, especially since they also contain dietary cholesterol.

Another myth was that cholesterol is fat. That is simply not true. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that resembles fat, and is a vital element to maintain cell
walls, insulate nerve fibers and produces vitamin D, among other things.

Cholesterol is a vital, naturally occurring substance in the human body. Using cholesterol, the body produces a series of stress-combating hormones and mediates the health and efficiency of the cell membranes. It is found in the nerve sheaths, white matter of the brain, and adrenal glands. It also helps regulate the body’s electrolyte balance. It is regarded by the body as such an important metabolic aid that every cell has a mechanism to manufacture its own supply (Erdmann).

Cholesterol is also essential for brain function and development. It forms
membranes inside cells and keeps cell membranes permeable. It keeps moods level by stabilizing neurotransmitters and helps maintain a healthy immune system. No steroidal hormone can be manufactured without it (including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, adrenaline, cortisol and DHEA). Up to two-grams (2,000mg) are produced internally every day, several times the amount found in our diets. We actually make-and utilize a LOT of it. Despite this ability to manufacture cholesterol, however, it is, in fact, critical to obtain cholesterol from dietary sources.

No study to date has adequately shown any significant link between dietary and serum cholesterol levels…or any significant causative link between cholesterol and actual heart disease. Other than in uncommon cases of genetically based ‘familial hypercholesterolemia’ (where natural mechanisms which regulate cholesterol production fail and the body cannot stop overproduction-even here the proof of the problematic nature of cholesterol is dubious, at best), cholesterol is perhaps only potentially deleterious in and of itself in oxidized forms, occurring as a result of food processing methods (such as in “reduced fat” milks, powdered milk/eggs) and high heat cooking/frying. Inflammatory processes can also be oxidizing of cholesterol in the body. Other than this, ALL cholesterol in the body is the same. “HDL” and “LDL” only reflect transport mechanisms for healthy cholesterol and are meaningless measures of coronary heart disease risk (Enig, Ravnskov). It is also important to realize that “HDL” and “LDL” are NOT actual cholesterol at all, but merely the protein transport mechanism for cholesterol. Again, ALL cholesterol is exactly the same. LDL takes cholesterol away from the liver to the extremities and other organs for various purposes and HDL merely returns the same cholesterol to the liver where it may be recycled.   Furthermore, cholesterol is also the human body’s version of duct tape. It travels to areas where there has been arterial damage and patches-up lesions. Higher serum levels of cholesterol may serve as a message that “something is going on” for which it is needed. It is simply an “indicator”.   Elevated glucose and/or insulin levels, for instance, damage arterial walls and lead to an increased need for cholesterol to repair them. And the majority (80%) of what actually clogs arteries is not composed of cholesterol or saturated fat but of oxidized/rancid unsaturated fats (Enig).
Statistically, individuals whose blood cholesterol levels are low develop just
as many
plaques in their blood vessels as individuals whose cholesterol is
“high” (Ravnskov). Cholesterol is no more a cause of heart disease than gray hair is the cause of old age.

Evidence showing that eating a lot of dietary cholesterol doesn’t increase blood cholesterol was discovered during a statistical analysis conducted over 25 years by Dr. Wanda Howell and colleagues at the University of Arizona.
The study revealed that people who consume two eggs each day do not show signs of increased blood cholesterol levels. (Askmen.com) In fact,
more than 200 studies, involving roughly 8,000 people, over the past 25 years now suggest it is bad fats and excessive consumption of grains and processed foods  (including saturated fats and hydrogenated oils), and not cholesterol, that affects cholesterol levels the most.

The body needs to achieve a balance when it comes to cholesterol consumption. Fat from healthy sources is vital to the body, while fat from poor choices, such as margarine or foods fried in vegetable oil, are very dangerous. Eggs remain a beneficial source of healthy fat. Many nutrients, such as vitamin A, are better absorbed with fat, making eggs a very good source of vitamin A. Research has documented that eggs do not appear to promote heart disease risk as they contain mostly polyunsaturated fat, which can actually lower blood cholesterol if one replaces food containing saturated fat with eggs. (Kritchevsky, Djousse)

Nutritional powerhouse

By throwing out the yolk and only eating egg whites, you’re essentially throwing out the most nutrient dense, antioxidant-rich, vitamin and mineral loaded portion of the egg. The yolks contain so many B-vitamins, trace minerals, vitamin A, folate, lutein, and other powerful nutrients… it’s not even worth trying to list them all.

In fact, the egg whites are almost devoid of nutrition compared to the yolks.

Even the protein in egg whites isn’t as powerful without the yolks to balance out the amino acid profile and make the protein more bio-available. Not to even mention that the egg yolks from free range chickens are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Yolks contain more than 90% of the calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6,folate, and B12, and panthothenic acid of the egg. In addition, the yolks
contain ALL of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the egg, as well as
ALL of the essential fatty acids (EFAs).

One single egg contains 5 grams of fat, of which only two grams is of the saturated variety. Some of the nutrients in the egg yolk are actually heart friendly.  The carotenoids present in it are better absorbed than those from vegetarian sources and these nutrients have shown evidence of preventing heart disease.

In addition, the yolks contain the antioxidant lutein as well as other
antioxidants which can help protect you from inflammation within your body (the REAL culprit in heart disease, not dietary cholesterol!), giving yet another reason why the yolks are actually GOOD for you, and not detrimental.

Some additional health benefits of eggs are:

  • They’re great for the eyes as they may prevent macular degeneration due to the carotenoid content, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • In another study, researchers found that people who eat eggs every day lower their risk of developing cataracts, also because of the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs.
  • Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at a population of 117,000 nurses who had been followed for eight to 14 years and found no
    difference in heart disease risk between those who ate one egg a week and those who ate more than one egg a day. In fact, according to one study, regular consumption of eggs may help prevent blood clots, stroke, and heart attacks. (Medicinenet.com)
  • They are a good source of choline, which is present in the yolk. One egg yolk has about 300 micrograms of choline, helping to regulate the brain, nervous system, and the cardiovascular system. Choline is definitely a nutrient needed in good supply for good health. Choline is a key component of many fat-containing structures in cell membranes, whose flexibility and integrity depend on adequate supplies of choline.
  • Eggs are also a good source of omega 3 when you buy ones from laying hens fed wholesome seeds, like flaxseed. Omega 3 may prevent blood from clotting, decrease triglycerides, and lower high blood pressure.
  • Eggs are one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D.
  • Eggs may prevent breast cancer. In one study, women who consumed at least 6 eggs per week lowered their risk of breast cancer by 44%.
  • Eggs promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulphur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals.
  • Eggs help reduce weight. “In a randomized controlled trial, 160 overweight or obese men and women were divided into 2 groups, one of which ate a breakfast including 2 eggs, while the other consumed a bagel breakfast supplying the same amount of calories and weight mass (an important control factor in satiety and weight loss studies). Participants ate their assigned breakfast at least 5 days a week for 8 weeks as part of a low-fat diet with a 1,000 calorie deficit. (Dhurandhar N, Vander Wal
    J, et al, FASEB Journal)

Compared to those on the bagel breakfast, egg eaters:

  • Lost almost twice as much weight — egg eaters lost an average of 6.0 pounds compared to bagel eaters’ 3.5 pound loss.
  • Had an 83% greater decrease in waist circumference
  • Reported greater improvements in energy

How to buy eggs

It’s best to buy chicken from your local farmer.  Free range chickens are allowed to roam, picking up insects and other nourishing food items.  Research has shown that cage-free hens have produced eggs higher in various vitamins (Pappas).

Chickens packaged tightly in cages undergo stress, lowering their immune systems and raising their likelihood of infection. Many times, chickens are given regular antibiotics to help keep down infection rates, lead to stronger, more resistant bacteria in the feces of the chicken. Free-range eggs actually show greater resistance to bugs like salmonella (Messens)

Eggs that say “organic” or “omega-3″ have the right idea, but will still not be as good as cage-free.”

Enjoy your eggs and get a healthier body!

Further reading: Primal body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas

 

Read 9127 times Last modified on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 15:21
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