There are many myths about the eggs we include on our menu. Just one a week? Two or three? The reason behind this discussion is that, apart from the potential risk that excess cholesterol in eggs may have for health, the truth is that this food is one of the healthiest at our disposal.
Even with the most recent studies, in which the ingestion of an additional 300 mg of cholesterol can have a negative impact on health in general, the hypothesis that, since the population studied was the North American, this increase cannot be ruled out. of the risk is associated with foods that often accompany eggs: bacon and processed meats. Deep down, eating eggs is perfectly safe, as long as you don’t exceed the limit of three units a day. In other words, the keyword is moderation.
EGGS: A POWERFUL FOOD
Chicken eggs, in particular, are excellent sources of vitamin A , vitamin B2, vitamin B12, selenium, folic acid and antioxidants.
Depending on the chicken or the degree of enrichment of the egg, they can still provide appreciable amounts of omega 3 . Even with the most recent studies, in which the ingestion of an additional 300 mg of cholesterol can have a negative impact on health in general, the hypothesis that, since the population studied was the North American, this increase cannot be ruled out. of the risk is associated with foods that often accompany eggs: bacon and processed meats.
ARE THERE RISKS IN EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION?
A recent study suggests that every 300 mg of dietary cholesterol consumed daily increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17% and the risk of all-cause mortality by 18%.
Since an egg contains about 186 mg of cholesterol, researchers have suggested that eating three to four eggs weekly is associated with a 6% increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an 8% increased risk of death from all causes. causes.
This information almost leads us to assume that the consumption of eggs, even 1 per week, is bad for health. But not quite.
EGG AND DIETARY CHOLESTEROL
First, it is important to understand the relative impact of dietary cholesterol on overall health. Cholesterol comes from two sources: it can be produced by the liver or it can be obtained through food, mostly by eating animal products. For example, meats and full-fat dairy products are rich in so-called dietary or dietary cholesterol.
These same products are also rich in saturated fats and trans fats, substances that cause the liver to produce more cholesterol than normal. Some types of cooking oils, such as coconut oil and palm oil, also increase the liver’s production of cholesterol. US guidelines suggest that cholesterol intake should be as close to nothing as possible.
However, the scientific foundation that accompanies these recommendations also suggests that cholesterol is not a nutrient that overconsumption is of interest. It is important to emphasize that demonstrating the health impact of a specific nutrient or food is quite complex.
In the aforementioned study, in which more than 30,000 people from the most diverse ethnic and socioeconomic groups were followed for 31 years, multiple confounding effects were noted.
On the other hand, no matter how good an observational study is, it will remain an observational study, that is, it is practically impossible to attribute a cause-effect relationship to egg consumption.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE EAT SEVERAL EGGS A DAY?
For decades people have been warned about the importance of limiting the consumption of eggs – or at least egg yolks. One medium egg contains approximately 186 mg of cholesterol, or about 62% of the recommended daily intake value.
In contrast, egg whites are mostly protein. The most common recommendations include limiting two to six egg yolks per week. However, there is not enough scientific support to support this recommendation today.
|Nutrient||Amount per 44 g (average unit)||% of Recommended Daily Amounts (RDA)|
|Omega 3||32.6 mg||–|
|Vitamin A||214 IU||4%|
|Vitamin D||15.4 IU||4%|
|B12 vitamin||0.6 mcg||9%|
Some studies have examined the effects of egg consumption on cholesterol levels. These studies divided people into two groups – one who ate one to three eggs a day and another who ate other products such as egg substitutes.
As a result, in almost all cases, there was an increase in HDL cholesterol values, that is, the “good” cholesterol. On the other hand, total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol may remain unchanged or, in some cases, rise slightly.
Even so, one of the changes seen was the change in the size of LDL cholesterol particles, from small and dense to large, an indicator of lower risk of heart disease.
Therefore, even if egg intake is accompanied by a rise in “bad” cholesterol levels, this rise is not necessarily negative. To date, it is safe to eat up to three whole eggs a day, factored into your daily energy needs.
Advantages of eating eggs
There is more to eggs than the cholesterol that makes them up. Their richness in lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants, makes them valuable foods in reducing the risk of eye diseases.
Their choline content, an essential nutrient with lipotrophic potential obtained almost exclusively from food and important for correct cellular functioning, makes eggs an important food in functions ranging from maintaining the health of the central nervous system to detoxifying the body. liver.
Furthermore, when included in nutritional calculations, eggs can be important in manipulating body composition as they promote a feeling of satiety and increase muscle mass.
However, how much is “too many eggs”?
Unfortunately, there are no studies in which egg intake exceeds three units per day. It is possible, however, that eating more than three eggs a day could have a negative impact on health and although reports from an 88-year-old man who consumed 25 eggs a day and had normal serum cholesterol values, it is impossible to extrapolate the answer extreme consumption of eggs for the rest of the population.
It is also important to note that not all eggs are the same, and the healthiest are those enriched with omega-3 or from chickens that are not raised in captivity. These are naturally richer in omega three and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin D.