- Raina Chang
The Truth Behind Eggs: Did A Heart Attack Cause Humpty Dumpty to Fall?
Deviled eggs, egg salad sandwich, eggs on toast, Chef’s salad, sliced egg in ramen, or just plain boiled egg with a sprinkle of salt. The list goes on of all the ways you can creatively eat, and not waste, all the left-over hardboiled eggs found hidden in bushes and between lampposts last Easter Sunday. We’ve long been told eggs are an excellent source of protein. Some of us have loved eggs ‘from our heads down to our legs’ and can even hum the tune to “The Incredible, Edible Egg” after the American Egg board debuted the jingle and new slogan in their 1977 commercial.¹ But, what if you already have high cholesterol? How many eggs is too many eggs and are there drawbacks to eating this savory treat?
The American Heart Association (AHA) outlines the benefits of eating eggs, as each egg contains 78 calories, provides 6 grams of protein, contains all 9 amino acids, and is a dietary source of Vitamin D and choline. One egg also packs around 186 mg of cholesterol.² This may be why the AHA recommends eating only the egg white. However, if you head over to Incredibleegg.org, they recommend eating not just the white but also the yolk, as it contains the essential nutrients necessary for supporting our brains and bodies. Further, they say that consuming the entire egg can have a positive effect on your mood and help you to feel satiated for longer, resulting in weight maintenance and even weight loss, as well as help you maintain healthy bones, refuel muscles, and protect your eyes from harmful blue light.³
The Bad and Downright Ugly
A study published in a 2011 in the journal for American Association for Cancer Research showed that men who ate 2.5 eggs (or more) each week showed an 81% risk increase for lethal prostate cancer. This was compared to men who consumed less than half an egg weekly.⁴ Eating even one egg a day may put you at risk for cardiovascular disease if you already have elevated cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and may even be a predictor of cirrhosis and liver cancer.⁵
Choline, a nutrient essential to important body functions, is highly concentrated in eggs. Bacteria in our gut turns choline into trimethylamine oxide, otherwise known as TMAO, a toxic byproduct with negative effects on the heart. TMAO causes inflammation in the body and plaque to build in the arteries, which can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack.⁶
Did you know that eggs are the most common food allergy in children?⁷ Most children tend to grow out of this allergy as they age. If your child seems to continually suffer from abdominal upset, diarrhea, itchy eyes, difficulty breathing or shows other symptoms of what you assume to be caused by seasonal allergies, you may want to consider removing eggs from their diet to see if this may be the culprit.⁸
If egg salad sandwiches make a regular appearance on your weekly meal rotation, consider swapping out the eggs for chickpeas for a more heart healthy sandwich. Try out this recipe for a plant-based version of tuna fish salad by Simple Veganista, it’s pretty mouthwatering if I do say so myself.
1. America's egg farmers bring back iconic incredible edible egg jingle. PR Newswire: press release distribution, targeting, monitoring and marketing. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/americas-egg-farmers-bring-back-iconic-incredible-edible-egg-jingle-173314551.html. Published June 30, 2018. Accessed April 11, 2023.
2. Are eggs good for you or not? www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not. Published March 16, 2023. Accessed April 11, 2023.
3. Incredibleegg.wpenginepowered.com. http://incredibleegg.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/ENC_Tearpad_022723.pdf. Accessed April 11, 2023.
4. Incredibleegg.wpenginepowered.com. http://incredibleegg.wpenginepowered.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/ENC_Tearpad_022723.pdf. Accessed April 11, 2023.
5. Eggs. NutritionFacts.org. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/eggs/. Accessed April 11, 2023.
6. Daniel. Choline. NutritionFacts.org. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/choline/. Accessed April 11, 2023.
7. Common allergens - peanut, egg, and sesame allergies: Fare. FoodAllergy.org. https://www.foodallergy.org/living-food-allergies/food-allergy-essentials/common-allergens#:~:text=Egg%20allergy%20is%20among%20the,egg%20whites%20and%20egg%20yolks. Accessed April 11, 2023.
8. Egg allergies. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/egg-allergies#:~:text=Signs%20and%20symptoms%20of%20egg%20allergies,-If%20your%20child&text=Eyes%3A%20itching%2C%20tearing%20or%20redness,clear%20discharge%2C%20sneezing%20or%20itching. Published February 5, 2020. Accessed April 11, 2023.