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How the humble egg lost and regained its good reputation

Many people avoid eggs thinking that they can negatively impact cardiovascular health. This isn't really true

Eggs are a great addition to your diet. And yes, they taste fabulous too
Eggs are a great addition to your diet. And yes, they taste fabulous too (Pexels)

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What was once out is now "in" again. Everything from mom jeans and flared-leg pants has seen a resurgence. This time, however, I'm talking specifically about eggs this time.

These versatile little pockets are easy to get more protein into your diet, especially when time is tight or you're on the go. But because eggs contain cholesterol, a molecule associated with cardiovascular issues, we've been cautioned to keep our distance, just as I kept my distance from mom jeans.

But do we need to? That is the question.

Information published by American Heart Association from yester-year told us that our daily cholesterol intake should be no more than 300 mg daily. The humble egg contains around 185 mg, which means your entire dietary requirement of cholesterol would be munched up at breakfast time. For decades, people were confused over how to include eggs in their diets without negatively impacting their health - just to eliminate them.

The sweeping statement that eggs are bad for you is based on the idea that having high cholesterol can negatively impact your cardiovascular health. As egg yolks, in particular, are higher in cholesterol, people were opting for egg white omelettes and finding ways only to consume the white of the egg.

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However, what was not understood was how cholesterol production works in the body. In a HuffPost piece titled Eggs, Healthy or Not, Dr John Berardi, PhD in Nutrition, says that our body already produces a large amount of cholesterol each day – a whopping 1-2 grams each day of it. Dr Berardi points outs that this is ten times more cholesterol than what you find in the average large egg. If our bodies already produce cholesterol in such a great quantity, how does the innocuous-looking egg cause so much harm? It doesn't unless you already have cardiovascular issues that need addressing. What was not previously understood is that our bodies regulate their cholesterol production by the dietary cholesterol we ingest. Therefore, the more dietary cholesterol you consume (within reason), the less the body will produce to keep its equilibrium.

According to Ryan Andrews, author of the Precision Nutrition article titled All About Cholesterol: Understanding Nutrition's Most Controversial Molecule, cholesterol is beneficial and vital to how our body works. It's used to produce vitamin D, steroid hormones, and bile acids and is the base of our sex hormones, such as androgens and estrogens. However, as Andrews mentions, the negative health impact comes from having too much "bad cholesterol," which contributes to various cardiovascular issues, including atherosclerosis (fatty deposits on the arterial walls).

So what is good cholesterol versus bad? Cholesterol travels through our blood with a "wrapper" of sorts, and it can be an HDL wrapper (high-density lipoprotein) which is considered "good" because it sweeps up excess cholesterol and deposits it in the liver for disposal. Or, its LDL (low-density lipoprotein), although it has a role in the body, can be problematic for your heart health.

However, the medical community has been slow to lessen the cautionary restraints on eggs, and old belief systems die hard. When you look at the article published by the American Heart Association, Are Eggs Good for You or Not, there is a disclaimer that states: "This article was published more than two years ago, so some information may be outdated. Always contact a health care professional if you have questions about your health."

You read that correctly. Nutrition science is constantly evolving. Even the egg has lost and regained its nutritional reputation over a few years. And, unless someone is explicitly researching whether or not they should be consuming eggs or night, this change in recommendation may go unnoticed.

We are now told that avoiding an egg's yolk means skipping an incredible source of nutrients for your body. Dr John Berardi tells us the yolk of an egg contains "90 per cent of the egg's calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, and B12. In addition, the yolk contains all fat-soluble components, such as vitamins A, D, and E, not to mention the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids."

However, some people with chronically high cholesterol or the physical inability to manage the cholesterol in their bodies might need to manage their dietary sources of cholesterol, such as the egg. If you're confused about whether you should be consuming eggs based on any cardiovascular risk, have a conversation with your doctor. They can do a comprehensive blood lipid analysis and recommend a course of action. However, if you don't have existing cardiovascular issues, the research states that you can enjoy your eggs! A study published in Clinical Science Journal has shown that eating three eggs a day while eating a moderately restricted carbohydrate diet was good for you! Participants in this study experienced improved blood lipoprotein profiles and insulin resistance.

Also read: Why cocktail makers want you to drink less, not more

So if you're a fan of eggs and your health provides for it, please help yourself!

Jen's favourite egg recipe

One of my favourite egg recipes is a colourful Mexican Burrito Bowl. It's incredibly easy to make, and you can tailor it to your taste buds. It contains fresh and colourful types of capsicum, tomato, avocado, black beans, cheese, and a handful of rice, topped with a fried egg on the top. It's easy to whip up and delicious to eat – you can throw in more vegetables you enjoy the most and make it suit your tastes. Top with some hot sauce for an extra kick!

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