The purpose of a hen’s egg is to provide the nutrients necessary to develop a baby chick. Eggs are packed with protein, fat, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals.
However, as Dr. John McDougall, one of the giants in plant-based nutrition puts it, “an egg is the richest of all foods, and far too much of a ‘good thing’ for people.” For example a whole egg has 272 mg of cholesterol, almost the whole recommended daily allowance.
It’s frustrating when one month we’re told by the media that foods like eggs should be avoided and then the next month we’re told they’re OK. The reason for these confusing flip-flops is usually that Big Food does its best to sow seeds of doubt about established science when science shows that their product is unhealthy. This is the same tactic used by the tobacco industry a few decades ago. Here’s how this works:
• We know that after eating an egg, triglyceride and cholesterol levels go up for several hours, and we think this is when plaque (atherosclerosis aka “hardening of the arteries”) forms in our arteries.
• The American Egg Board hires research scientists willing to sell their souls and perform a study with a predetermined outcome that supports the board’s product.
• The study shows that blood cholesterols in study subjects after an overnight fast are not elevated, and the Egg Board scientists claim that eggs don’t raise cholesterol and are therefore healthy. Of course the damaging post-meal elevation is not mentioned.
• Food and science writers are usually not sophisticated enough to figure out what’s going on (it’s hard enough for physicians to determine whether a study is legitimate).
• More than 90 percent of “scientific” papers on food are now done by industry-sponsored scientists.
Neal Barnard, M.D., founding president of the PCRM (Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine) recently reviewed the health problems linked to eggs. He noted that recent studies with no industry ties show that people who eat eggs have a significantly elevated risk of:
• Type 2 diabetes.
• Heart attacks, especially in diabetics.
• Prostate cancer, especially the aggressive type that spreads.
It’s easy to cook without eggs, by substituting ground flaxseed or apple sauce. Try the tasty vegan tofu scramble at the Village Smithy in Carbondale.
My favorite source of unbiased, evidence-based information on nutrition is Dr. Michael Greger’s book “How Not to Die” and his website nutritionfacts.org. Hats off to the Valley View Hospital medical library for currently sponsoring the book and for sponsoring a talk by Dr. Greger at the Orchard in Carbondale on Feb. 9 (Mark your calendar and get your ticket as soon as they are available).