Eggs and Heart Disease: Debunking a Myth

26 Jan 2013

The health of Americans has been steadily declining over the past fifty years. Several factors are certainly contributory and I have written two books concerning two of those factors (trans fats and fructose). I am always amazed when another article comes along that debunks an urban legend about our health and disease. The subject of this report exposes yet another myth that was started during the 1960’s when the terrible health effects of trans fats were being exposed and great efforts were undertaken to redirect America’s attention toward anything else.

It had just recently been discovered in the late 1950’s that trans fat use was leading to the rapid development of heart disease in the United States. A massive campaign was initiated to convince America that the “real” cause of heart attacks was excess consumption of cholesterol and saturated fats. Hence, the egg became the prime target of the reeducation of USA as it was loaded with cholesterol and saturated fats. The “evil” breakfast delight became the bad boy of our diet and to this day we are warned about the dangers of saturated fats and cholesterol consumption.

If you go to www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data website the Federal Government warns us that if we want to reduce our risk of “dying of heart disease” then we need to “eat a healthy diet that is low…in saturated fat and cholesterol…” The egg and the avocado are loaded with these fats. As we are now learning this warning is not accurate.

Finally, a review article of egg consumption and its risk of heart disease and stroke has been published in the British Medical Journal that reveals the truth about this misguided “fact” that should settle this issue once and for all. The authors analyzed numerous published reports on the subject and performed a Meta analysis (a way of comparing all the studies together to come to a conclusion) and found that higher consumption of eggs did not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. The warnings against eggs are conspicuously in error as I discussed in my first book and now as this article covering several decades of data gathering emphasizes.

One of things that I have learned when I was researching fat metabolism before writing my first book on the subject is that we are what we eat. If a chicken eats corn meal their eggs will have a higher content of omega-6 fatty acids while their eggs will be rich in omega-3 fatty acids if they are fed flax meal or are allowed to eat bugs, grasses and seeds found in the barnyard. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body while omega-6 foods increase inflammation. It would be plausible that we could get excess omega-6 fatty acids from eggs if we consume too many eggs but it is not the saturated fats and cholesterol that are the problem children.

If consumers move away from omega-6 rich to omega-3 rich eggs the law of supply and demand will entice egg producers to move toward a more heart healthy egg. The next time you enjoy eggs Benedict, an omelet or eggs sunny side up don’t worry so much about the saturated fats or cholesterol, just check out what the chicken was eating (hence: the chicken before the egg).

References:
42 Days to a New Life, 2007
Fructose Exposed, 2010
BMJ 2013; 346:e8539
www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data