� � Aug-05-2008
Till recently, most nutritionist took the view that low dietary consumption of eggs and egg products was essential for good health. It was said that too many eggs in the diet of a person tended to elevate cholesterol levels in the body over the long term - considered a prime risk factor for heart attack. However, this view has been challenged by new results obtained from a recent clinical study, which suggests that different individuals have different tolerances to a diet rich in eggs. This result corroborates all the results that have come from other long term nutritional research projects that question the validity of reducing egg consumption as a priority approach for maintaining good health. In fact, it has been confirmed that eggs in the diet are good or bad for a person depending on his or her metabolic make up, results from research suggest that some people can eat far more eggs and tolerate cholesterol better than others. Some precautions still need to be taken as far as egg consumption is concerned as different individuals have varying dietary needs.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - AJCN - recently published the result from this particular study. This nutritional study has shown that the risk of heart attack is not related to egg consumption par se and may depend on a number of factors even among affected people who are known to have had high dietary egg consumption. In fact, the mortality rate was not significantly increased even when up to six eggs were consumed weekly according to the results of a long term dietary study involving twenty one thousand male subjects. At the same time, a weekly dietary regimen that included the consumption of more than seven or more eggs resulted in a twenty three percent increase in the likelihood of death in test subjects who were studied over two decades. The absence of a direct connection between heart disease risk or a jump in the mortality rates to consumption of eggs in the diet was confirmed in one sixteen year study. The men and women who were studied during this long term program were not at a higher risk of dying and did not necessarily suffer from heart related ailments due to their consumption of eggs.
The results obtained from these long term clinical studies have therefore put a question mark on all the standard advise given by most dieticians and nutritionist till now, concerning eggs and the risk of heart problems. In fact, as the debate over the inclusion of eggs in the diet was mainly related to the high cholesterol content of eggs, these results have contradicted the general approach of nutritionists and dieticians. The view was that a healthy daily dietary good for the health of the heart must have less than three milligrams of total dietary cholesterol - this view can now be questioned based on these new findings. The normal clinical approach till now was even harder on patients with identifiable heart disorders, diseases like diabetes or health risk factors like an elevation in the amount of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol.) Such patients would usually be told to limit dietary intake of cholesterol to less than two hundred mg daily.
The yolk from a single egg gives about 200 mg of cholesterol and therefore, some of the dietary advice currently being given to certain patients can be seen as being a bit restrictive. To bring down elevated blood levels of cholesterol, the best bet is to go for a diet that is rich in fat dairy products and lean meats as saturated fat from animal products is the main contributor of cholesterol in most diets. A maximum of four egg yolks weekly is recommended for people who are advised to follow healthy diets. Even this small amount of eggs is enough to meet the 300 mg cholesterol limit a day imposed by most dieticians on their patient; in fact, a maximum of one egg yolk is often the recommended limit if the dietician suggests a total daily intake of just 200 mg of cholesterol. At the same time, dieticians typically advise individuals who do not normally consume any meat or dairy products to increase their egg consumption. What cannot be doubted is the importance of keeping blood cholesterol levels in check; as the risk of heart disease jumps up with even a one percent increase in the total LDL cholesterol in the blood - LDL is also known as bad cholesterol. Nevertheless, it must be made clear that dietary sources are responsible for only about twenty five percent of the cholesterol found in the blood. The greatest amount of cholesterol is synthesized in the liver indirectly from other nutrients; hereditary and genetic compostion of an individual greatly influences the production of cholesterol in the body and may pre-dispose the person to a tendency of consuming large amounts of saturated and trans fat in the diet. A lager appetite typically also translates into greater intake of cholesterol rich foods.
The current and conventional nutritional wisdom dictates that all individuals who have blood cholesterol above normal must reduce the consumption of foods rich in cholesterol. The results from some clinical studies however, have not pointed out a clear connection between these two factors, and the results do not demonstrate with certainty that all individuals who have high blood cholesterol levels will be responsive to such reductions in dietary cholesterol intake - therefore, such treatments may not work on many people. The American journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published an article based on the results from a study; in this study it was shown that individuals who had a pre-existing high blood cholesterol level at the initiation of the study were not influenced with respect to the cholesterol level when they consumed eggs, such people had no significant changes in cholesterol due to egg consumption when compared to other people in the study.
At the same time, diabetics who consumed an average of seven or more eggs weekly were found to have fifty or hundred percent increased in the risk for heart disease and death in several conclusive studies. Therefore, unrestricted egg consumption as a part of the daily diet clearly has an extremely strong and negative effect in diabetics compared to non-diabetics. Individuals with heart ailments and hypertension patients may also need to avoid eating eggs on a regular basis.
The results from this new study questions the conventional dietary wisdom and plays down the importance of treatment strategies like the reduction of egg consumption typically recommended by nutritionist for people with cholesterol problems. These results cannot be said to suggest unrestricted consumption of eggs, however, nutritional experts have now suggested based on the new research results that the present practice of restricting egg consumption to just four eggs a week for their patients may be too severe. In fact, eggs are one of the most beneficial foods around and compared to meats are relatively cheap sources of protein; they contain all the essential amino acids and are rich in some vitamins and nutrients. They can serve as an alternative to other sources of proteins such as red meat which are not advise due to their potential for causing colon cancer in people - most people can manage half a dozen eggs weekly to fill their protein quota in the diet. The conventional dietary restrictions still apply to some specific groups of people, all diabetics, those who are in a pre-diabetes stage and patients who suffer from high blood triglycerides levels are better off with the four eggs a week restriction. There is a word of warning for people intending to increase their consumption of eggs; any increase must not include an increase in the consumption of bacon or sausage or other high fat preserved meats.