Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Eggs: Nature’s deadliest weapon?


Another study on eggs and heart disease risk has been published. Well, sort of. It’s a meta-analysis of 16 previously published studies. As soon as I see that an article was based on a meta-analysis I can’t help but question the conclusions it reaches. There are a number of issues to consider when looking at meta-analyses and I feel like there’s a huge opportunity for bias and misinterpretation of results. It’s far too easy to be selective about inclusion of research and implications of results. Oftentimes the original studies are flawed and those flaws are carried through into the meta-analysis but they’re not as apparent when you’re not looking at the entire study. That being said, let’s look at the present meta-analysis.

It appears that the authors don’t have any conflicts of interest (always the first thing to check when looking at research: where did the funding come from?). A quick Google search of each of the authors didn’t reveal any obvious affiliations that could have impacted their research. It doesn’t appear that they had any ulterior motives.

The study actually found no relationship between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease in the general population. Did you catch that behind the headlines suggesting that egg yolks are bad for you?: healthy individuals who eat eggs once a day are no more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than healthy individuals who don’t eat eggs at all. However, the part that’s getting the most attention is the finding that egg consumption may be associated with an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes and those egg-eaters who have diabetes are at greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Before you start freaking out and getting on the egg-white omelette bandwagon please note the presence of the words incidence and associated. These words tell us that people who regularly eat eggs may be at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who don’t. It also tells us that people who have diabetes and eat eggs may be at greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is assuming that all of the studies they looked at were sound and that all relevant studies were included (big assumptions). However, it doesn’t tell us that eating eggs was the reason for the increased risks. There could have been some other commonality among the egg-eaters that raised their risk for type 2 diabetes and there may have been something other than egg-consumption that increased their risk of dying from CVD.

Now, if you have diabetes, not knowing for certain if eggs may increase your risk of dying from CVD you may want to minimize your consumption of them. Better safe than sorry. And, while most of us can safely consume up to an egg a day, I think it’s important to bear in mind that variety is an important component to a healthy diet.

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Follow Friday: Egg dissectors

Today’s Follow Friday goes out to a couple of blog posts dissecting the recent study reporting the deadly effects of egg consumption. There’s been news articles in pretty much every newspaper but just in case you missed the reports here’s a link to one in the Globe and Mail: Eggs Move Back to the Naughty List. To find out why the study is not so great check out these egg-cellent (I held off as long as I could but this story just begs for puns) blog posts: One from Understand Nutrition and another from Science-Based Medicine.


Easter Eggs

Looking for a way to use the eggs from your decorated Easter egg shells? Why not try making a frittata for bunch? Frittatas are an easy way to use eggs. Just sauté what ever vegetables you like, or have on hand, in a cast iron frying pan. I like to use things like asparagus, mushrooms, and spinach. You might also want to boil a couple of new potatoes. While the veggies are cooking, beat together 6-8 eggs, fresh ground pepper and a dash of basil. Once the potatoes are cooked, slice and distribute evenly in the pan with the veg. Pour the eggs over top and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to cook for a few minutes and then sprinkle with feta or goat’s cheese and pop in the oven on the centre rack with the broiler on. Continue to cook until eggs are set and bubbly. Cut into slices and serve with a side salad and toast, or other desired brunch items. Oh, and of course coffee.

Eggs have been much maligned over the years. Primarily due to their cholesterol content. However, dietary cholesterol intake actually has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels and even those with high LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) can safely consume up to two eggs per week. Those of us with healthy cholesterol levels can consume up to one egg a day. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin A, among other nutrients. Try to buy free-range organic eggs but don’t bother with the omega-3 eggs. Those hens are fed a diet high in flax seed to boost the omega-3 levels in the eggs. The slight increase in omega-3s in those eggs is offset by the increase in price. You’re better off consuming the ground flax yourself and consuming other better food sources of omega-3s such as fatty fish (e.g. Atlantic salmon, mackerel, and sardines).