In the past, I have written about the “cholesterol con” (part 1), the widespread belief that high levels of “bad (LDL) cholesterol” can cause heart attacks. As I have explained (part 2), the myth has generated enormous profits for many commercial interests, including companies that peddle statins. (Please read both parts of the post.) No surprise, manufacturers have poured millions of dollars into perpetuating the myth, and thus have succeed in convincing a great many Americans that they should avoid high-cholesterol foods–including eggs.
According to Harvard University’s Harvard Heart Letter, however, it is not the cholesterol in eggs or other food that’s a major culprit. It’s saturated and trans fats (which our bodies may convert to artery-clogging cholesterol).
Today, as my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I celebrated Father ‘s Day with a brunch that featured “perfect scrambled eggs” (here is the recipe), fresh fruit and mini-bagels, I regaled them what I had just learned by reading “Heart Sisters.” (Okay, “regaled” is the wrong word. My son and husband are not quite as interested in healthcare topics as I am. But my daughter-in-law—who is from the South, has lovely manners, and a kind heart — is always extremely interested in what I have to say.)
On Heart Sisters, Carolyn Thomas (a Mayo-Clinic trained heart attack survivor) lays out what Harvard’s cardiologists tell us about the egg:
“Fact: Eggs are a good source of nutrients. One egg contains six grams of protein and some healthful unsaturated fats. Eggs are also a good source of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss.
“Myth: Eating eggs is bad for your heart. The only large study to look at the impact on heart disease of eating up to six eggs per week (reported in the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) found no connection between the two. In people with diabetes, though, egg-a-day eaters were slightly more likely to have developed heart disease than diabetics who rarely ate eggs. (Ed. note: Quelle surprise . . . this study was done on men only).
“Fact: Eggs do have a lot of cholesterol. The average large egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol. As foods go, that’s quite a bit, rivaled only by single servings of liver, shrimp, and duck meat. Your daily cholesterol maximum intake should be below 300 mg.
“Myth: All that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries. Not so. For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood. Saturated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels.
“So if you like eggs, the Harvard Heart Letter says that eating one a day should be okay, especially if you cut back on saturated and trans fats, plus dietary cholesterol from other sources such as red meat.
“Other ways to enjoy eggs without worrying about cholesterol include not eating the yolk, which contains all the egg’s cholesterol.” (Note: II personally like to have two eggs for breakfast poached, soft-boiled or fried in just a little butter two or three times a week. I eat mainly the whites just dipping them in the runny yolk. In this way, I consume just one yolk–MM.
Happy Father’s Day.