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The pros and cons of eggs for breakfast
Well for years, the message was………………..eggs are BAD.
Because, eating eggs definitely bumps up the LDL cholesterol levels i.e. the so called “bad” cholesterol. And people with cardiovascular disease, typically have high LDL cholesterol.
The thinking was – eggs are a health risk.
Eggs raise HDL
But eggs also raise HDL cholesterol levels, the so called “good” cholesterol. Since people with cardiovascular disease, also typically have low HDL cholesterol.
And HDL seems to be protective, on paper at least, this should be good.
NOTE : Low HDL is actually the marker for metabolic syndrome, not high LDL cholesterol.
So what is it ?
Flip flopping on eggs
Well in recent years the pendulum has swung and the thinking that an egg a day, will kill you, has shifted to, eggs are NOT really an issue.
Well that’s what has happened in the higher echelons of nutritional power.
But the message has not filtered through to the ground floor.
Most people still WORRY about their egg consumption.
For some the worry translates to avoiding eggs like the plague, for the others, they opt to eat the other” half of the egg……
The YOLK is the food. The white is the packaging.
Eat an egg every day !
When it comes to eggs, we’re definitely not at the point where health gurus actively encourage egg breakfasts.
A bowl of oatmeal is still recommended.
But is this really good advice ?
A group of researchers, based at the University of Connecticut, decided it was time to look beyond the cholesterol story.
Eggs are more than cholesterol
Eggs are Mother Nature’s multivitamin pill – they’re loaded with goodies.
First off they’re a protein source, and mixed into the protein matrix, are most vitamins and minerals, plus a few “extras”.
The team decided to rank breakfast options based on two other nutrients found in eggs.
One you WANT (carotenoids, these are an antioxidant) and
one, you DON’T WANT (TMAO).
Yes, cholesterol has a rival….. for the title of nutrient non grata.
The new “cholesterol”
The “nutrient” you don’t want is TMAO.
This is not an ingredient, you’ll find on the label.
TMAO, is short for trimethylamine N-oxide, it’s made from trimethylamine (TMA), which is made from choline, carnitine and betaine.
The trimethylamine is made by some species of bacteria living in your gut.
Your liver adds the oxide.
It turns out, people who are at risk of cardiovascular disease, typically have more TMAO than they should……
Another one bites the dust
Of course, people with metabolic problems have imbalances in pretty much everything…..TMAO, being the tip of the iceberg.
But it is a “worry” !
Especially, because one of the “extras” in eggs, is CHOLINE.
Now for the record, YOU NEED CHOLINE, especially during pregnancy – and it’s one of the nutrients a lot of people don’t get enough of.
So it’s complicated……
Back to the study
The Connecticut team tracked cholesterol, carotenoid and TMAO levels in 50 young healthy people, when they started their day with different breakfasts.
- Breakfast 1 consisted of two eggs
- Breakfast 2 comprised 1 package of oatmeal.
Each breakfast was consumed for 4 weeks, with a three week break, between breakfast options.
Big picture eating
The nutritional breakdown of the breakfasts is VERY different.
- Eggs have 12 g protein, 0 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat.
- Oatmeal has 4 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat.
So to “see” the “big picture”, the team asked participants to track their diet and exercise habits for three days, prior to the blood draws.
So what happened ?
Carotenoids were up
It turned out, the egg breakfast didn’t spike carotenoid intake – the dietary record, suggested both groups got about the same amount.
But carotenoids are considered to be fat soluble vitamins.
This means, to get them out of the food and into the blood, they should be consumed with fat – since eggs are “fatty”, this gives them a potential advantage…
This was seen in the breakfast study.
An egg breakfast put more carotenoids in the system.
NOTE : Carotenoids are a type of anti-oxidant, their biggest claim to fame, they are concentrated in the eye and have been shown to be important for the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.
Score one for the eggs…..
But what about the TMAO ?
Choline got a boost
As expected, eating eggs for breakfast, definitely bumped up the choline.
More was consumed and more went in.
Score 2 for eggs…..
NB. Choline is considered an essential nutrient.
There was NO darkside………..
Despite increases in choline consumption, there was no evidence of a spike in TMAO levels, when people ate an egg-y breakfast.
Score 3 for eggs.
Eggs trump oatmeal
So…. enjoy them for breakfast or lunch, or dinner.
Eggs are a relatively inexpensive source of protein, which provide excellent nutrition. They won’t up your odds of suffering a heart attack, in fact, they might just do the opposite.
Traditionally oats came as flakes, now days, they often come as flour – the benefit, they’re faster to prepare, but they’re also faster to assimilate and this, matters
Every Mom, rich or poor, wants to provide her little one with the best start possible. An egg a day, will give baby a great start and prevent stunting
It is vitally important to eat a balanced diet, during pregnancy and lactation. But, not all nutrients are equally important…. .