The other day I scrambled up a couple of eggs for my husband and he asked me if I was trying to kill him.
The egg debate is back! Again.
And if you’re like me, you’re ready to throw your arms up in the air and give up on all these studies. Seems like dietary advice shifts every single day, often wildly. After all, a couple of weeks ago even national dietary guidelines no longer limited cholesterol or egg consumption. This week? Eggs are poison!
The reason? A new study that included almost 30,000 adults and spanned over 30 years of follow-up, concluded that eating two eggs per day boosts your risk of developing heart disease by 27%, and your risk of early death by 34%.
But you always have to put new study findings into context.
First and foremost, overall scientific data is overwhelmingly consistent that the diet most likely to yield better health and healthier longevity is a whole-food plant-based one. Meaning a diet that favors consuming beans, legumes, greens, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and grains – in their most whole and unprocessed forms. The types of dietary components found in Step One Foods.
It’s after that where the majority of the controversy comes in. Whether dairy, eggs, meat or fish, how much of our intake should be non-plant based is what we mostly argue about. Even though human experience tells us that regardless of culture or location, eating real food not too much mostly plants is what works. Meaning, eat a whole-food plant-based diet primarily and moderate the rest.
Second, the study design was not perfect. It relied on people’s recall of what they ate over the last month or last year, with that information documented on one occasion and then extrapolated as constant over the next 30 years. I don’t know about you but I can’t remember exactly what I ate yesterday let alone a month ago. And as time has gone on, my diet has definitely changed. Assuming that recall is perfect and everything is static over time is a major limitation of the study.
Back to those eggs. The fact that the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth is an indication that the data is not overwhelmingly consistent in either direction. To me, that signals relative neutrality. Which doesn’t mean you get to ignore the new information. But it also doesn’t mean you have to change everything. If a food is neutral in terms of health, we should still be consuming less of it – because we want to be primarily eating items that are actively BUILDING health. So eggs might not be completely evil, but if the choice is between eating a bowl of whole grain oatmeal or eggs, eat the oatmeal!
But I don’t think you have to completely deprive yourself of eggs either. A 3 egg omelet every day is not a wise approach. But it wasn’t wise even before this study came out. An egg a day (on average) is probably still OK especially if the rest of your diet is primarily plant based.
And for the record, I’m not trying to kill my husband.