The Great Debate: Are Eggs Good or Bad?
Why is the egg such a controversial food? Historically, it’s been praised for its protein and various vitamins and minerals. Yet, multiple studies have questioned its long-term nutritional value. In fact, eggs have been linked to several health conditions, including heart disease and high cholesterol. So, what is the truth?
At first glance, studies debating the benefit of eggs can appear straightforward. But a lot of the variables are unaccounted for. “Did you exercise? How old were you? Were you having a lot of other fat or desserts and treats? Were you very sedentary,” asked Grace Derocha, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and health coach, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Those are important factors that help determine a person’s risk for potential disease. When discussing eggs, Derocha wants to present a more inclusive view. “I don’t want to dismiss any research study ever, but I also want to make sure that we’re being very clear about how the study was run and what they saw,” she explained. “A lot of times, you can pull different statistics out of something to come to a conclusion, but it might not be the right conclusion for every single person reading it.”
Despite negative press, eggs are still considered a complete food. At just 65-80 calories per serving, they contain ample protein and fat, which are both macronutrients that help to keep you full longer. Also, egg whites are a primary source of amino acids, while the yolk contains choline and lutein, which are good for brain and eye health.
On the latest episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, he and Derocha discuss different types of eggs and the healthiest ways to prepare them.
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Some egg-related buzzwords are “free run and free range,” which refer to chickens’ treatment and living conditions. According to Derocha, “Free run or free range means that they literally get to run around the farm or wherever they are … but when they say just cage-free, it doesn’t mean that they’re running around. They could be jam packed.”
Preparation also plays a vital role in how healthy or harmful eggs can be. “There’s lots of different ways to cook eggs,” said Derocha. “You can use a cooking spray so that you’re not adding any more fat, but then other people, when you’re at a restaurant usually, they’re using butter or oil.” You can also make them hard boiled, soft boiled or poached.
Before changing your diet, please discuss any questions or concerns with a medical professional. “Go to your doctor, look at where your cholesterol numbers are at,” said Derocha. “Look at your family history. See what has been a detriment to other family members. What might be a part of your genes?”
Eggs do not have to be the enemy. The goal is to make a well-informed decision that’s specific to your situation. Be smarter and conscious of how they affect you and your body.
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Photo credit: GMVozd