Eggs: the un-beatable reason they’re healthy.
Scrambled, sunny side up, boiled, or poached, they’re eggs, a nutritional powerhouse that have become an American staple for breakfast and beyond. Eggs with their 7 grams of protein, also contain every single vitamin and mineral required by the human body, including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, vitamin E, folate and many more. Clocking in at an average of 70 calories per egg with their high nutrient content, the average joe could assume that eggs are nutrient dense and healthy. In Fact the USDA, under law by the US congress, cannot label or advertise eggs or egg products as being healthy or nutritious.“The words nutritious and healthy carry certain connotations, and because eggs have the amount of cholesterol they do, plus the fact that they’re not low in fat, [the words healthy and nutritious] are problematic.” (Greger. ) What’s truly problematic is the fact that the USDA does not allow eggs to be labeled as healthy when in fact there is hypocrisy to have them nullified for their cholesterol content of which cholesterol itself is no longer of concern according to there public dietary guidelines. (“Dietary guidelines- 2015-2020” 32) The same people also say that a fortified fat-free chocolate pudding can be labeled as healthy, while eggs cannot. The foods that meet the standards for the “healthy” label in most cases are low-fat/fat-free processed foods, when in fact a hens natural egg being one of the most low-cost, vitamin and nutrient rich, bioavailable sources of food should be deserving of the healthy label.
In grocery stores there are labels such as whole grain, nutritious, low fat, low calorie and healthy, but one label you’re not going to find on a naturally occuring food such as eggs is “healthy.” Foods like processed whole grain pop tart pastries or sugary orange juices made from concentrate are allowed to have “healthy” labels, yet a hens natural egg is not allowed to make such a claim? Evidently not Because the Food and Drug Administration is more than 20 years behind in figuring out guidelines for what “healthy” means for food claims labels (Greger. ) The current guidelines state that “healthy” foods are low in cholesterol and provide beneficial nutrients including potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamin D. (¨Dietary guidelines 2015-2020¨ 32) Commonly its processed foods that are able to use such a label which can give wrong connotations to what healthy food even is. Eggs not only classify as a whole food, but they can provide a link to whole foods being healthy for the human diet as opposed to ¨low fat this ̈ and ̈low fat that.¨
Eggs being a vitamin and nutrient rich bioavailable sources of natural food gives purpose for its healthy label, which ignorantly enough isn’t appreciated and credited by the USDA. Eggs provide the body with every single vitamin and mineral required by the human body, including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese, vitamin E, folate along with 6 grams of ̈ just the worlds most bio available protein on earth.¨ (Hoffman. ) According to a table comparing the bioavailable qualities of protein in food, eggs hold the lead in bio availability. (See Fig. 1)
Fig. 1. “What is a Protein’s Biological Value and Why is it Important.” Fooducate.
Published Nov 12, 2014. Table that presents the biological values of popular protein sources. https://www.fooducate.com/community/post/What-is-a-Protein%E2%80%99s-Biological-Value-and-Why-is-it-Important%3F/54637528-C22F-288D-4494-86\B7BD5B9737
Accessed October 27,2019
Bioavailability is the extent to which your body digests, absorbs and uses food. Some protein-rich foods are easier to break down than others, and eggs are the winner in this case. Eggs also have health benefits such as being good for the eyes as they are significant sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been found to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration or being a source of choline which improves metabolism, liver function, and fetal brain development. (“Are eggs good for you or not”) Eggs not only are natural sources of nutrients, but they are easily
absorbed by the body and contain compounds that provide health benefits, furthermore these factors contribute to making food healthy in the first place, something of which the USDA does not credit for in considering eggs to be marketed as healthy.
The USDA ́s main reason for not allowing a healthy label on eggs is because of its belief of what “healthy” under FDA rules means. The USDA by law acknowledges that for a food to be marketed as healthy, that it must have less than 90 mg of cholesterol per serving (even half an egg fails that test). Egg corporations are not permitted to say things like “Eggs can be part of a well balanced, healthy diet” since it would be considered quackery by the USDA since eggs contain significant amounts of cholesterol. The USDA considers low fat, low calorie, low cholesterol food to be advertised as healthy, thus making eggs fail the requirements of low fat content (4.5 grams per egg) and less than 90 milligrams of cholesterol (187 milligrams per egg). The USDA as of 2015, used to suggest that you consume no more than (300 mg) of cholesterol per day, and is still suggesting that you eat no more than 20% to 35% of total calories from fat which is about 44 grams to 77 grams of fat per day if you eat 2,000 calories a day. (Greger. ) Eggs therefore would fail USDA’s prerequisites for being healthy since one egg contains ⅛ to 1/16 of your recommended total fat intake.
While the USDA does in fact have set regulations for eggs to be considered healthy, they lack a static philosophy in how to determine ̈healthy ̈ as the big picture. For instance, Eggs are voided of the healthy label because of their high cholesterol, but the current dietary model removed the 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day cap, after studies showed that the cholesterol in food did not
raise total cholesterol levels significantly. (“Dietary guidelines 2015-2020” 32) The Logic that cholesterol should be limited does not align with current dietary model that the USDA provides. What this shows is an instance hypocrisy in term can affect people’s interpretation that anything including low fat processed food that’s low in cholesterol is good for you, and any food including whole foods like eggs that are above a set nutrient parameters isn’t healthy.
Another obstacle that eggs face against earning the ̈healthy ̈ label is the existing research against such a title. Commonly cited papers like those by David Spence, a professor of neurology at the University of Western Ontario, disagrees with egg’s status as a morning staple. He’s authored papers that show the connection between egg yolks and carotid plaque (“Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque”), which can cause heart disease, going so far as to suggest that they are comparable to smoking. (Spence. ) He claims“that the exponential nature of the increase in TPA (total plaque area) and varied individuals that consume any eggs in there diet follows a similar pattern to cigarette smoking.“ (Spence. ) Because egg yolks contain significant amounts of cholesterol, a possible risk factor for coronary artery disease and heart attacks, they are comprably dangerous as cigarettes in the how they can possibly increase total plaque area in any individual that consumes them, even the USDA, by law, cannot truthfully say eggs are good for us.
Existing research built upon certain researchers studies to de-promote eggs as being unhealthy and even dangerous still goes under the premise that there cholesterol content makes them bad. Referring back to the commonly cited study by David Spence (“Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque“), the study used ultrasound technology to look for fatty accumulation in the arteries of
around 1,200 adults who were attending a clinic because they had pre-existing risk factors for heart disease. “The adults were questioned about their smoking history, the number of egg yolks eaten per week and how long they had eaten this amount of egg yolks.” (Spence. ) This study did contain some important limitations, such as the accuracy of the participants egg yolk consumption and additional risk factors contributing to artery plaque formation, not surveyed by the study, such as activity level or rest of diet. The biggest problem with the cohort study is that it was based on a large number of people who simply told their physicians what they ate. It was not a controlled study, rather a scientific study born out of a two or three-question survey. Additionally, not only are there many factors that can change the results of the study, but the researchers didn’t seem to consider the fact that most often, Americans do not typically eat their eggs alone or within a salad, they are often paired with bacon, fried potatoes, and condiments such as cheese, butter, maple syrup, and ketchup. Researchers seemingly do not consider the quantity of added sugars, oil types, and bacon quality (pasture raised vs conventional) that may intervene in the study. This study is often cited in research used in the USDA, which in itself could be one of many vague and cohort studies that the USDA has selected as a premise for their guidelines and justification of what “healthy” means in regards to cholesterol content.
The USDA must abide by the US congress, but setting a limit on dietary cholesterol requires a limit on egg consumption, thus holding it in a limbo of evidence showing there’s no direct link of egg consumption being bad for you and law; yet the USDA implies that many cereals, snacks and juice drinks that are often full of added sugar and up to 40 ingredients still fit the criteria of healthy.
The bigger picture here for eggs deserving the health label isn’t because it ́s superior biological protein value or its high vitamin content, it’s the ability to imply the movement of whole foods being healthier than there ¨processed and fortified ̈ counter parts. According to Dr Jay R. Hoffman, ¨whole foods retain their fiber as well as a whole portfolio of beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that are often removed in processed foods.¨ (Hoffman. ) The implication given through eggs earning the ¨healthy ̈ label is that they are close to nature, where we came from, and should therefore eat from instead of a chip rack.
Realistically, eggs most likely will not be cherry picked to be labeled as healthy unless the government changes the way they determine ¨̈healthy ̈ and how they research it for the labeling of all whole foods. Though the USDA ́s recent act of removing the cap on cholesterol is huge step towards filtering out what foods are and are not healthy, there is still a lot to be reformed about there guidelines. Hopefully, Eggs can stand out with their exceptional and affordable form of usable protein, vitamins, and health benefits. (Hoffman. ) Americans can only hope for the best when it comes to congress ever redefining the meaning of ¨healthy ̈ and in this case it is imperative that Americans can be well informed about the truth of their food labels so they can feel well assured that adding eggs into their shopping cart is a healthy and nutritious choice!
American Heart Association. Are eggs good for you or not. American Heart Association News.
Published August 21, 2019. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not
Accessed Oct 27, 2019
Fooducate. What is a Protein’s Biological Value and Why is it Important. Published Nov 12 2014
Accessed Oct 27, 2019
Gregar, Michael M.D. “Peeks Behind the Egg Industry Curtain.” Nutrition facts.org. Published
Accessed Oct 27, 2019
Hoffman, Jay R. Protein – Which is Best. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes
of Health, J Sports Sci Med. 2004 Sep; 3(3): 118–130. Published online 2004 Sep 1.
Accessed Oct 27, 2019.
Spence, David J. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis, Volume 224,
Issue 2, 469 - 473. doi.org/10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.07.03
Accessed Oct 27, 2019.
USDA, 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015). United States Department of
Agriculture, 2015-2020 Eighth Edition. P. 32. Published December, 2015.