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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Should you eat eggs? Do you feel lucky?

How do I stand on eggs? Are they safe to eat or not? The answer is "yes and no." It really is. And that is the difficulty. There is no one size fits all answer to the egg question.

The right answer depends on you, and your actions depend on how you answer the famous question asked by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry: "Do I feel lucky?"

You see, eggs are safe to eat if you do not suffer from cardiovascular disease, from a build up of plaque in the arteries delivering blood to your heart or brain and elsewhere. But how does one know if their arteries are clear? Well, until tests show they are plugging up, most of us like to believe our arteries are clear. Often we are wrong.

Even though cardiovascular disease afflicts or kills as many as one in two adults in developed countries, we feel lucky. Until, that is, one suffers a heart attack or a stroke. Dying from this is not a long shot. This is not a lottery with long odds. It is not even a dice throw. It is more a coin flip.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports:

A healthy lifestyle pattern may prevent more than 50% of deaths due to ischemic strokes, 80% of sudden cardiac deaths, and 75% of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease. And what exactly is a "healthy lifestyle pattern?"
  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying active
  • Choosing a healthy diet

And where do eggs fit in a healthy diet? That depends. Again, from the T.H. Chan school:

People who have difficulty controlling their total and LDL cholesterol may want to be cautious about eating egg yolks and instead choose foods made with egg whites. The same is true for people with diabetes. 

Unfortunately, one year you may test well for cholesterol but move into the danger in the future. For many of us, as our age increases so does our cholesterol. I had good readings until I didn't. And I found out I didn't a little late in the game. I thought I was lucky. I wasn't. I no longer eat eggs, or at least not egg yolks. This is at the urging of my heart and stroke specialist.

If you are young and healthy and at little risk of  cardiovascular disease, you can take solace in the fact that  research has shown eating one egg a day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals. But note those last words: "healthy individuals." Read the fine print.

I believe my heart and stroke doctor would tell you not to flip a coin when it comes to your health. You can never be totally confident that you are "healthy." Don't smoke, maintain a healthy weight, exercise and eat a healthy diet by keeping saturated fat consumption low. And, to further increase your odds of avoiding what is commonly called heart disease, minimize your consumption of eggs.

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/03/scientists-fix-errors-controversial-paper-about-saturated-fats

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