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Simply Eggcellent!

From the early '70s eggs have been condemned by the heart specialists as 'dietary demon', and many egg-loving people have shied away from eating eggs. However, over 30 years of research has shown, eggs are safe to eat and does not have any significant change in healthy individuals.

A 1999 Harvard University study that collected data from more than 80,000 found no significant difference in heart disease risk between healthy adults who ate an egg a day, and that eating an egg a day is unlikely to have a significant overall impact on heart disease.

A review of more than 25 studies that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2000 showed that eating an egg a day isn't associated with heart disease in healthy men and women.

A six-week study conducted by researches at the Yale Prevention Research Institute showed that adding two eggs a day to a healthful diet did not significantly increase cholesterol levels in young or middle-aged men and woman with normally elevated blood cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol number

In 2005 researchers at the University of Connecticut found that eating eggs does not significantly alter the ratio of LDL-cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, which is recognised as a better indicator of heart disease risk than an individual's total cholesterol number or LDL cholesterol number.

In January 2007 issue of the Medical Science Monitor concluded that eating one egg or more a day does not increase the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke among healthy adults.

A research review over 30 years, published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition in 2007 concluded that eating eggs daily does not have a significance on blood cholesterol or heart disease risk.

When it comes to nutrition, it is important to focus on the benefits that foods provide. Not only are eggs easy to prepare and economical, there nutritional package can contribute to weight management, eye health and even a baby's brain development during pregnancy.

Choline and Lecithin

In the recent past, a prominent heart specialist wrote that choline, lecithin and Lutein are compounds essential for animals and not for humans.

It was also mentioned that choline was mistaken for an essential vitamin. In 1998 the National Academy of Science, USA, issued a report identifying choline as a required nutrient for humans and recommended daily intake amounts.

The same year the Institute of Medicine (IMO) identified choline as an essential nutrition and the newest official member of the B vitamin family, for human and set an adequate intake level: 550mg/day for men, and 425mg/day for woman, 450mg/day during pregnancy and 550mg during lactation.

Pregnancy

Studies have shown that during pregnancy and lactation, maternal reserves of choline are depleted (J Am Coll Nutr 2004). This is why, now most commercial caned milk products for lactating mothers indicate that choline is added in the product.

Eggs are an excellent source of choline (251 mg/egg). Choline intake has been related to a decrease in plasma homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease, as well as a reduction in inflammatory markers, also a risk factor for heart disease. Eggs also contain the anti-inflammatory/anti-oxidant lutein, which has been shown to be associated with a slower progression artery intimal medial thickening, another marker for atherosclerosis.

LDL particles

Finally, research has shown that the effect of egg feeding on plasma LDL cholesterol concentration is the result of the particles actually caring more cholesterol (i.e. Bigger, fuller LDL particles) and not an increase in number LDL particles in the blood.

Smaller, denser LDL particles have been shown to be more atherogenic than the larger LDL particles that carry more cholesterol.

So when all these consideration are put together, there probably is a good scientific rationale to explain why eggs have not been associated with heart disease incidence in epidemiological studies, because adding an egg a day to the diet has more beneficial effects on heart disease risk.

(The writer is a B.V.Sc Veterinary Surgeon)

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