How many times has this “Medical Advice” column reported a change in prevailing medical recommendations? Here we go again. Humpty Dumpty could certainly identify with the angst a humble egg currently has to deal with. Talk about self-esteem issues. For years, eggs have been slashed from “healthy” diets because they were considered too loaded with fat and, therefore, a leading contributor to heart disease. The general recommendation was no more than two eggs per week. Even yours truly ascribed to that theory and personally was responsible for instructing her patients in that direction.
It makes me recall a scene in Woody Allen’s futuristic movie of many years ago, “Bananas,” which depicts cigarette smoking to have actually become a healthy habit. So too, the once maligned egg is making a comeback.
Now, we look upon the egg as a nutrient-dense food, meaning an egg can provide a high proportion of one’s daily nutritional needs with a small proportion of calories. In other words, you get your money’s worth with one egg: only an average of 75 calories, but lots of protein and tons of vitamins and minerals. So why were eggs ever considered BAD? It has to do with the yellow yolk of an egg where all the fat and cholesterol are packed. There was a time when all fats were considered bad. Not so anymore.
Medical science has learned so much in the last decade about the effects of saturated versus unsaturated fats and the development of heart disease. It used to be that the focus of cholesterol treatment would be a patient’s blood level of total cholesterol. Now we know that while total cholesterol is important to determine, monitor and treat, it is the so-called BAD cholesterol, or LDL (low-density lipid) that is the greater culprit in the development of heart disease. And what in our diet contributes to this LDL? Saturated fats. An egg actually is low in saturated fat. Hence, the reintroduction of eggs as part of a healthy diet.
That being said, one still needs to consider how the egg is prepared and what is consumed in addition to the egg. Are the eggs fried in oil? Adding cheese for an omelet? Throwing in a slab of ham, chunks of sausage or a few strips of fat laden bacon? Do you include a ton of home fries, biscuits with gravy, buttered toast and some coffee with your cream (I mean, cream with your coffee)?
I apologize if you just sat down and thought you’d read the morning paper while eating a leisurely breakfast. My intent is not to offend; my intent is to educate and to acknowledge that as new medical information comes along we should all be flexible enough to understand why recommendations change the way they do and flexible enough to incorporate the new recommendations that seem reasonable to us. In my mind it almost always comes back to a key word: Moderation. There’s nothing wrong with a breakfast deliciously high in saturated fat, as long as it is not every day. And nowadays, we can revise past advice and say there is probably nothing wrong with consuming more than two eggs per week; hard-boiled either on salads, as part of a breakfast with toast and jelly, with lettuce and tomato on toast for a sandwich, etc. If you’re not sure whether or not you should include eggs in your diet in terms of your cholesterol profile, talk it over with your health care provider.
• Agnes Oblas is an adult nurse practitioner with a private practice and residence in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, or if there is a topic you would like her to address, call (602) 405-6320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her website is www.newpathshealth.com.