It’s not a huge secret that anti-egg bias is a bit pet peeve of mine. It’s an unfortunate holdover from the days when advice about a heart-healthy diet was not very nuanced, and the “don’t eat eggs” edict was wielded like a blunt instrument.
Today, science knows better that, for most people, eggs and other sources of dietary cholesterol don’t raise blood cholesterol to any significant degree. That’s because (again, for most people) the human body adjusts how much cholesterol it manufactures based on how much it’s receiving from food.
I am continually amazed by the number of finely tuned regulatory mechanisms the body has in constant operation. We tend to think about the things that go wrong with the body (i.e, in cases of disease), but we don’t often think about how much goes right!
Anyway, unless you are one of the relative few people who has a body that doesn’t know when to back off on cholesterol production (and I would hope that if you are, your doctor has had conversations with you about the precise nature of your form of high blood cholesterol), there’s no reason to ditch the eggs (unless you have an egg allergy or are vegan, of course).
That’s great, because eggs are a high-quality, affordable source of protein as well as being the best dietary source of choline, a B-vitamin relative that may be as important in pregnancy as folic acid.
So this is a rather long-winded way of saying how excited I was to see the headline “Eggs Regain Reputation” in the New York Times. The short article summarized the findings, published in the British Medical Journal, of a large meta-analysis (a “study of other studies”) looking at the overall findings of eight prospective cohort* studies.
The findings of this latest bit of research did not surprise me. I wrote a paper on the very issue last term, and after reading piles of scientific journal articles I found the same thing: there’s no problem with eating up to an egg a day (there’s no good research on whether eating more than that is a problem). That’s with the exception of people with diabetes, for whom more research is needed (it may be that people with diabetes have specific alterations to how their body handles cholesterol). Still, I appreciate that the good word on eggs is making it into major mainstream publications. I need to send the link to the doctors of a few friends of mine, who are still stuck in the “no egg” groove.
*A prospective cohort study “follows” a group of people over a span of time to see if a specified “something” happens to them. Information is generally collected at the start of the study and at intervals thereafter. In the case of diet and disease studies, the diets of people who never end up developing the disease would be compared to the diets of people who did develop the disease to see if there are any apparent associations from specific foods or eating patterns and the disease.