Badly beaten for 20 years for its cholesterol content and being wrongly linked to cardiovascular diseases, this breakfast favorite gets out of its shell and returns to the morning plate with more good to offer than previously thought of
Concerning egg nutrition, when we were very young, we were taught at school that the egg is, compared with other nutritional sources, the most complete. Our mothers served eggs-fried, boiled, poached, scrambled, or whatever frequently at the breakfast table. Our teachers never failed to mention the egg’s importance in the hierarchy of the food groups. Together with milk, fruits, and vegetables, the egg enjoyed a prominent role.
At the time, rightfully so. The egg is loaded with vitamins (except vitamin C), minerals, and proteins. This food satisfactorily met the energy requirements of an active lifestyle. The feeling of satiety also lasted longer, stretching the minutes where we would again succumb to our appetites, so the egg was also very good for those on diet. But came the cholesterol scare in the 1980s. Its poster child was a 1984 cover of Time magazine-two eggs for the eyes, a slice of bacon in a pout, the plate for the face. Because as much as the egg is packed in terms of nutrition, it is also proportionately packed with cholesterol. Studies after studies came out linking cholesterol to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). So in obedience to the wisdom of science, people started to avoid eggs.
Egg consumption dropped, and so did the benefits egg gave, since the perception was that the risks of eating eggs outweighed the benefits gained from them. This perception stuck. Erroneously so, some nutrition and medical experts are now saying. They base their assertions on recent findings reversing previous conclusions were drawn from-the experts set out to prove-incomplete and misleading studies made in the beginning of the cholesterol scare.
Guilty by Association
Dr. Hilary Shallo, food safety program director of the Egg Nutrition Center in Washington, DC, gave an update on the egg’s nutritional value during the Seminar on Egg Nutrition held September in Manila. Her lecture focused on the history of the problem-how the misconception regarding eggs came about-and presented a summary of evidence deconstructing the “weak data” that have been the medical community’s and the public’s dietary guide for many years.
She said that although there are many risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, like smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and family history, too much emphasis was given to blood cholesterol. “That’s what most people would think of first.” The leeriness that was quick to rise and continue was born of the numerous studies that demonstrated adverse affects on the subjects used. Whereas 50 years ago, egg was considered a good food and consumed almost daily, the studies succeeded to oust the egg from the family table. The American Heart Association (AHA) even came out with its first guideline on dietary cholesterol in 1968, which recommended that individuals “eat no more than three egg yolks per week.” Dr. Shallo asserts, however, that this restriction was simply the “precautionary principle” at work.”When information about risk is uncertain, it is prudent to assume the worst.” Moreover, the studies this attitude revolved around were, at best, faulty.
Meanwhile, an interesting pattern was found in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial Baseline Data conducted from 1973 to 1982. “People who had more eggs, or more of their energies from eggs, tended to have lower cholesterol levels.” The trial also looked into whether those who have high blood cholesterol knew they had the condition and were therefore avoiding eggs deliberately. They were then separated into those on diet and those who were not. A pattern whereby higher cholesterol levels were associated with lower egg intake stood out.
Good for Your Health, Bad for Diseases
Each Filipino consumes only 35 to 50 eggs every year, very low compared to other countries, The US, which spearheaded the demotion of the egg’s status, has now the worst incidence of CVD in the world. Its top three killers-coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke-owe a great deal of their rise to the war on cholesterol. The Philippines, which is a consistent follower of American trends, also reports, more or less, the same trend. The occurrence of these diseases here is the highest in Asia. ( Source: Medical Observer by MICHELLE CIRIACRUZ)