Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eggs: Healthy or Not?

The other day the University of Western Ontario sent out a press release informing the media that an acclaimed researcher at the London Ontario university had co-authored a review of dietary cholesterol studies.

The doctor, David Spence, along with two other Canadian experts in the field, came to the conclusion that dietary cholesterol is bad, very bad. Just about the worse offender when it comes to supplying a concentrated dose of dietary cholesterol is the egg.

The review points out that one egg contains from 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol. In comparison, the infamous KFC Double Down contains 145 mg of cholesterol. For those who don't know, the KFC Double Down sandwich replaces the bread or bun with two KFC chicken breasts to hold multiple slices of bacon and cheese.

The London Free Press, the local paper, carried a story on the review under the headline "Eggs worse than Double Down."

That, of course, is not quite what the doctors were saying. In fact, Dr. Spence told The Free Press that the Double Down is a "dietary disaster."

No, the doctors were talking only about cholesterol and they did raise some interesting points.

The paper correctly points out that The Heart and Stroke Foundation has given eggs their seal of approval. Yet, a search of the foundation's website finds this warning.

" . . . foods that contain high levels of dietary cholesterol, such as egg yolks, may have a small effect on blood cholesterol levels in people diagnosed with high blood cholesterol or type 2 diabetes. A recent study showed that individuals with type 2 diabetes need to watch their egg intake because it can increase their risk of heart disease. The Canadian Diabetes Association suggests that people with diabetes may have up to two eggs per week . . . speak to your healthcare provider, who will advise you on how much food containing dietary cholesterol you should eat."

In their review, the Canadian trio points out that in two major studies those who developed diabetes while consuming an egg a day doubled their risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those eating less than an egg a week. The studies also showed a significant increase of new onset diabetes with regular egg consumption.

There seem to be some points of agreement between the Heart and Stroke people and the three renegade researchers.

A story in Canada.com reported:

The last time Spence spoke out publicly against yolks in his local newspaper, his house was egged.

"I had to pay someone 150 bucks to come in on a ladder and clean up the second story. They hit the wall on the second floor and the door and the windows on the main floor."

But he remains unperturbed. He said yolks "shouldn't be regarded as an item that's suitable for human diets" for anyone at risk of vascular disease. "And you name me a Canadian that isn't."

Ironically, on the very day The Free Press was warning its readers of the health risks posed by eggs and dietary cholesterol, the paper carried a story on one of nature's most nutritious foods: Eggs!

If you still want to eat eggs, and I can understand that, Dr. Spence sets an upper limit of 200 mg. of dietary cholesterol a day. I guess that means only eating half a yolk at one sitting. It will make for some rather lightly coloured omelets but I can "live" with that.

To see my take on this story running in Digital Journal click HERE.

For The London Free Press story by Debora Van Brenk, click HERE.

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