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June Russell's Health Facts

Eggs and Cholesterol - Controversy and Deception

The Egg Story: We have heard studies showing that eggs in the diet will raise cholesterol, but no reports on the type of eggs that were used. According to Artemis Simopoulos, MD, nutrition expert and president for the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, in Washington, D.C. and author of the book, "The Omega Diet," those eggs from free range chickens will not raise cholesterol. This study was in the New England Journal of Medicine. The factory supermarket eggs have a ratio of omega 6's to omega 3's 3 20 to 1, whereas the eggs from free range chickens are perfectly balanced ǿ 1 to 1. Too much omega 6 increases rates of many diseases. Meats and milk products from free range animals also increases disease rates. Also years ago when they measured cholesterol in shrimp, they measured not only the cholesterol, they measured all the other sterols, so they came up with a high figure. Now that we can distinguish the various sterols, the cholesterol in shrimp is much lower than originally determined, so even if you have heart disease it is all right to eat some a couple of times a week.
{Artemis Simopoulos, MD, on the People's Pharmacy, Show #368, Public Radio, Jul. 21, 2001}

After 40 years of being told that the cholesterol we eat goes right to our heart, now we find that it is not true. In two studies there was no difference in risk among those who ate eggs less than once a week and those who ate more than one a day.
{"A little egg on the face of it," NutritionNewsFocus, Feb. 15, 2001}

Cholesterol is a white, waxy substance found naturally throughout the body, including the blood, and is essential for good health. It belongs to a class of compounds called sterols. It is not a fat, but a closely related substance, however, it is often called a blood fat, or lipid. It is found naturally in every cell of your body. Each cell contains enzymes used for the production of cholesterol, and when the inside of the cells are cholesterol depleted, they are less efficient. Cholesterol is also essential for the development of our hormones and brain function, providing the stabilization of neurotransmitters. Depression, agitation and irritability can occur when your body doesn't get enough cholesterol.

Insulin is the major hormone directing the overproduction of cholesterol in the body. High-insulin levels are caused by consuming a diet that is insufficient in proteins and fats, while eating excess carbohydrates. Other causes of high-insulin levels are stress, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, steroids, and aspartame. This over production of cholesterol contributes to the formation of the damaging artery plaque that leads to heart attacks and strokes, say Diana Schwarzbein, MD and Nancy Deville, authors of the book, "The Schwarzbein Principal."

Cholesterol is so necessary to bodily functions that regardless of dietary intake, the body produces about 1,000 mg of cholesterol daily. Our body actually accelerates cholesterol production if we don't eat enough of it. Not only are cholesterol and fat essential to life, but if you don't eat these in your diet, you will be on the accelerated metabolic aging track toward disease and an earlier death, say Diana Schwarzbein, MD and Nancy Deville. According to Ann Louise Gittleman in her book, "Supernutrition for Menopause," what leads to high blood cholesterol is the lack of other nutrients, such as chromium, magnesium, vitamin B, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. These are all necessary for the metabolism of cholesterol. More than 80% of your daily cholesterol production comes not from your diet but from your own liver. So a high-carbohydrate, low-cholesterol diet guarantees a steady overproduction of cholesterol within the body. Negative press seems to live forever, even when positive research to the contrary exists.
{"Is dietary cholesterol really public enemy #1?" Women's Health Connection, an educational division of Women's International Pharmacy, 1998}

When cooking an egg, the cholesterol in the yolk is altered when simultaneously heated and exposed to air. Therefore, eggs should be cooked without breaking the yolks (i.e. poached, boiled, over easy, etc.), instead of scrambled or made into omelets. A raw blended egg should be drunk fairly quickly, or refrigerated, because leaving it out at room temperature will start cholesterol oxidation, albeit more slowly than by cooking.
{Health Scientist Panelist, Allan Spreen, MD, on e-Alert, April 3, 2003}

Also in "To Your Health," 2002, Dr. Spreen says that the original researchers did not even use real, whole eggs: they used powdered eggs. The lecithin in the eggs had to be heated (altered before ever being used in the research), thus destroying the healthy, naturally protective lecithin only available in the real whole egg.

When one heats the egg yolk, changes occur in the fragile elements that serve to support the vital life force within the egg. The egg yolk, in many ways, is not very different from your own cells. Once your temperature goes above 105 degrees, you will start to suffer serious health problems. Similarly heating the yolk above 105 degrees will also start to cause structural changes in many of the highly perishable components in the yolk. The most obvious one is cholesterol. The more the yolk is heated, the more likely oxidation will occur. Our blood vessels do not have receptors for cholesterol, only for oxidized cholesterol. So, you can eat as many eggs as you like, without worrying about cholesterol, as long as you don't cook the yolks.
{"Biotin, the forgotten vitamin,", July 2002} Editor's comment: Dr. Mercola's website is one of the most visited health sites in the world.

In a study reported in the 2001 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers from Kansas State University have shown that for the first time an ingredient in eggs actually keeps the artery-clogging cholesterol from getting into your body. Phosphatidylcholine (PC) in eggs actually stops a significant amount of cholesterol from entering the bloodstream. This could be very good news for egg lovers, especially since eggs are packed with other healthy goodies: protein, vitamins A and E, B-6, B-12, and folate.
{"Eggs might not be so bad after all, ingredient stops cholesterol from getting into the body,", Nov. 2001}
{"Nutrition Hints # 592, Betty Kamen, PhD, and Dr. Michael Rosenbaum, MD, 2001} Editor's comment: phosphatidylcholine is a substance that also prevents memory loss as we age. The first experiments that maligned eggs as a cholesterol threat were conducted years ago with dried egg yolk. Many studies since then demonstrated that eating whole, fresh eggs does not have the same effect.

Lecithin is a naturally occurring phospholipid that is required by every single cell in your body. Call membranes, which handle the flow of nutrients in and out of the cell, are composed largely of lecithin. Eggs are one of the richest food sources of lecithin. This nutrient is partly responsible for rescuing the reputation of the egg. Scientists at Kansas State University were the first to publish evidence that lecithin actually reduces the absorption of cholesterol. {"What is . . . lecithin?" Nutrition & Healing e-mail, Amanda Ross, Apr. 2004}

Egg yolks can inhibit cells from sticking together (platelet aggregation) and also prevent blood coagulation, two major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Egg yolks prohibit platelet aggregation in a dose-dependent manner, meaning the more you consume, the more effective the results.
{"Egg yolks against blood coagulation," Hint #1369, Nutrition Hints, Betty Kamen, PhD and Michael Rosenbaum, MD, Dec. 2003, as reported in Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 2003}

Raw whole eggs are inexpensive and are excellent source of high-quality nutrients. Many of us are deficient in high quality protein and fat. Although eggs are generally one of the most allergic foods that can be eaten, I believe that this is because they are cooked. If one consumes the eggs in their raw state, the incidence of egg allergy virtually disappears. Heating the egg protein actually changes the eggs' chemical shape.

There are suggestions that one should not eat raw egg whites. This is because raw egg whites contain a lipoprotein called avidin that is very effective at binding biotin, one of the B vitamins. The concern is that this can lead to a biotin deficiency. The simple solution is to cook the egg whites as this deactivates the avidin. The problem is that this cooking also deactivates nearly every other protein in the egg white. Although you will still obtain nutritional benefits from consuming cooked egg whites, from a nutritional perspective it would seem far better to consume them uncooked. There is a lot of biotin in the egg yolk, one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature, so it is unlikely that you will have a biotin deficiency if you consume the whole raw egg, yolk and white. However, it is clear that if you only consume raw egg whites, you may develop a biotin deficiency unless you take a biotin supplement. Note: be aware that when pregnant a biotin deficiency is common and eating raw eggs may make this worse)
{"Raw eggs for your health,, Major Update," Dr. Joseph Mercola,, Sep. 2005}

Uffe Ravnskov, well known expert on cholesterol, and author of the book, "Cholesterol Myths", adds the comment "The idea about oxidized cholesterol is yet another myth used to explain away the many studies that have failed to find an association between high cholesterol and CVD. Oxidized cholesterol is a risk factor only, probably reflecting lack of antioxidants or excess of free radicals in your body. The amount of oxidized cholesterol produced by heating eggs is trivial. And the main cause of an imbalance between omega 3 and omega 6 is a high consumption of vegetable oils from corn and sunflowers."
{Personal e-mail to June Russell, Sep. 5, 2005}

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