It seems that there is no more controversial food in the medical news than eggs. And this month, they are back in the health headlines again. This time it’s (mostly) good news. The recent study thats getting lots of attention is the “DIABEGG” study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It demonstrated that people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes can safely include eggs as long as they are on an otherwise healthy weight loss diet.
I am not surprised by these findings, but I am concerned about two issues with the DIABEGG study. First, the research was at least partially funded with money from the egg industry which likely represents a conflict of interest. And second, and perhaps more importantly, when a study like this gets reported in the news, headlines usually say something like “eggs are back on the menu” or something catchy like that. Those sensational stories tend to ignore the fact that all of the diabetic patients in this study were on a healthy, weight loss diet… and including eggs in that diet did not cause any adverse changes compared to the group who was on a weight loss diet without the eggs. This does not mean that eggs are good for diabetes, but it does mean that they can probably be safely included as long as the rest of the diet is healthy and focused on weight loss.
Why Eggs Can Be Good For You
All this media hoopla over eggs has been a distraction from the scientific evidence, which strongly suggests that this versatile and entirely natural food can be a healthy part of your diet.
Here are some very good things about eggs that you may not be aware of:
- They are a great source of high-quality protein (including nine amino acids that the body can’t make itself).
- Egg yolks are loaded with antioxidants (like selenium), vitamins (A, D, B2, and B12), and carotenoids (like lutein and zeaxanthin). These nutrients in eggs counteract inflammation, birth defects, and oxidative stress.
- Compounds in eggs are especially good for promoting healthy skin, hair, and vision.
Criticisms of Eggs Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up to Be
Critics of eggs maintain that they are high in cholesterol. This is one reason that some nutritionists recommend low-egg diets, particularly for individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease. But recent research, including a comprehensive meta-analysis involving multiple studies, have not found a correlation between higher egg consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Here’s a quick overview of the latest evidence:
- A 2018 study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a “high-egg compared with a low-egg diet has no detrimental effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors in persons with prediabetes.”
- In 2016, Finnish researchers found no evidence that high-consumption led to CVD, even in individuals with genetic risk factors.
- An extensive meta-study published in BMJ in 2013, found no correlation between egg consumption and a greater risk for heart disease or stroke.
So, I think it’s safe to say that several eggs per week poses few risks while providing many benefits. But there are a couple of things you should bear in mind:
- The quality of the eggs you eat matters. You want to make sure that your eggs come from healthy hens that have been fed a healthy diet. That means looking for organic eggs from free range chickens. I’m a firm believer that if you aren’t getting your eggs from happy hens, then you won’t be doing yourself (or the planet) any good.
- You need to think about what you are eating with your eggs. Serving them with bacon, sausage, and Hollandaise sauce is a lot different than serving them atop a bed of beans and greens. With that in mind, here’s a recipe for my Mexican huevos rancheros, which is one of my favorite hearty weekend breakfast or brunch meals.
- Corn tortillas
- Olive oil
- Beans (this can be as simple as black or pinto beans straight from the can, or a more elaborate bean mixture with sauteed onions and greens and spices)
- Organic eggs
- Sauteed spinach
- Avocado (fresh slices or pre-made guacamole)
- Spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, ancho chili powder, Mexican oregano)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place one or two corn tortillas on a baking sheet
- Cover with a layer of beans, sauteed (or fresh) spinach, and top salsa
- Bake at 350 for 10-15 min.
While the loaded tortilla is baking, prepare the fried eggs:
- Heat about 1-2 tsp olive oil in a non-stick skillet
- Crack one or two eggs into the hot oil.
- As the eggs are cooking sprinkle them with spices including: salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and ancho chili powder, and Mexican oregano.
- As the whites begin to firm up, flip the eggs over and allow to cook with the spices on the hot surface for another 30-60 seconds.
- Remove eggs from the pan and place on top of the loaded tortilla.
- Top the whole thing with some guacamole or sliced avocado and hot sauce of your choice.