Today’s post comes from Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, an award-winning nutrition expert and author of Read It Before You Eat It. As a health influencer, media spokesperson and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC, Bonnie advises global corporations and food companies and has been featured in thousands of TV, radio, print and web interviews. She blogs for US News & World Report & Everyday Health, and you can find her on twitter @eatsmartbd or visit her website at BetterThanDieting.com.
In the 1980s, the word, “cholesterol” was treated as a curse word. Like a billboard in Times Square, “No Cholesterol,” became a hot display on the front of food packages, including on products that never contained cholesterol to begin with, such as vegetable oils. Demonization of cholesteroland fat often led to fats in food being ditched and replaced with sugars, helping to bolster the rise in obesity rates instead of slashing them. Media sensationalism seemed to supersede science.
Researchers later showed that it wasn’t necessarily the cholesterol within a food that increased cholesterol levels in our bodies, rather, harm arose from the saturated and trans fat contents of food (1). In fact, we need fats in our diet, and more recent studies have even pointed out that saturated fats may not deserve the bad boy reputation bestowed upon them (2-4). And an even bigger surprise was the TIME Magazine story that grabbed attention when author Bryan Walsch highlighted that, “Our demonization of fat may have backfired in ways we are only just beginning to understand.” He went on to say, “Saturated fat also raises levels of the so-called good HDL cholesterol, which removes the [bad] LDL cholesterol that can accumulate on arterial walls.” Therefore, “Raising both HDL and LDL makes saturated fat a cardio wash.” If you’re confused by now, you’re not alone, and just imagine how your clients and the average consumer feel. The saturated fat story is perhaps just beginning to hatch, with more research warranted.
Serving only to augment your clients’ confusion about food and nutrition, it seems that shocking media messages take precedence over scientific studies. One food that seems to clearly be misunderstood is the egg. So now it’s time to clear up the confusion surrounding egg nutrition for your clients, particularly when it comes to some of the most popular myths and facts that need to be better eggs-plained:
Myth: Eggs are high in cholesterol and can raise cholesterol levels.
Fact: The Harvard School of Public Health notes, “moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet” (5,6). In fact,eggs provide a host of benefits that override their cholesterol content including the reduction of risks of developing macular degeneration, the main cause of blindness, and cataracts, both diseases of the eye, aided by eggs’ content of lutein and zeaxanthin (7). Rich in choline, eggs also play a role in brain and nervous system regulation (8).
Myth: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs.
Fact: Eggs are not like bread, where the darker grains are more nutrient-dense. The only reason some eggs are brown and others are white is because the chickens that hatch the eggs have different colored feathers! There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs; all eggs are a good source of the highest quality protein that exists.
Myth: Eggs contain too much fat.
Fact: Aside from the fact that we are way too fat phobic…it’s important to mention that eggs contain the right kind of fat. One egg contains just 5 grams of fat, with only 1.5 grams of which are saturated fat. The fat content of an egg may help delay digestion, thereby making it a perfect breakfast food to squelch hunger and welcome satiety (9).
Eggs are often associated with new life and birth. Perhaps it’s time to look at eggs in a fresh, new light. With bodies of scientific evidence to showcase their nutritional benefits, eggs’ versatility and value can’t be beat!
1) Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006; 9(1):8-12.
2) BMJ-British Medical Journal. “Low saturated fat diets don’t curb heart disease risk or help you live longer.” ScienceDaily, 5 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305191429.htm>.
3) University of Cambridge. “New evidence raises questions about the link between fatty acids and heart disease.” ScienceDaily, 17 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140317174502.htm>.
4) Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, Franco OH, Butterworth AS, Forouhi NG, Thompson SG, Khaw K, Mozaffarian D, Danesh J, Di Angelantonio E. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(6):398-406.
5) Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Manson JE, Ascherio A, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, Spiegelman D, Speizer FE, Sacks FM, Hennekens CH, Willett WC. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999; 281:1387-94.
6) Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006; 9:8-12.
7) Vishwanathan R, Goodrow-Kotyla EF, Wooten BR, Wilson TA, Nicolosi RJ. Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk increases macular pigment concentrations in older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering statins. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 90(5):1272-9.
8) Zeisel SH. Choline: Needed for normal development of memory. JACN. 2000; 19(5):528S-531S.
9) Kozimor A, Chang H, Cooper JA. Effects of dietary fatty acid composition from a high fat meal on satiety. Appetite. 2013; 69:39-45.