By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
In the world of healthy food hierarchies, eggs tend to get a bad rap.
They have been accused (mostly unjustly) of causing high cholesterol, promoting obesity and even possibly leading to heart disease.
But the truth is, eggs, eaten in moderation, are in fact an easy, affordable and healthy option for providing daily protein and other nutritional needs.
That is the message that Mexico’s National Aviculture Institute (INA) wanted to get across during a press conference it offered on Friday, Oct. 11 (International Egg Day).
“Eggs are one of the richest sources of protein – someone everyone needs – on Earth, and they are universally available in Mexico, the Number One per capita consumer of eggs,” said medical nutritionist Sandra Rizo Treviño.
.And while every egg does contain about 5 grams of fat, Rizo Treviño pointed out that 4 of those grams are composed of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (which are not linked to LDL, or bad, cholesterol).
Rizo Trevino also noted that nearly 80 percent of cholesterol in the blood – which has been linked to heart problems – is not the result of diet, but produced in the liver.
Consequently, she said, diet has every little to do with high LDL cholesterol levels.
Diet has every little to do with high LDL cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, eggs are rich in a number of nutrients, including vitamins B12, B2, B5 and A, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which has been ranked as carotenoids that may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults.
In 2000, Rizo Trevino pointed out, the American Heart Association (AHA) reversed its previous anti-egg campaign and revised its dietary guidelines, giving healthy adults the go-ahead to enjoy eggs again.
But the new AHA guidelines were not a green light to eat eggs indiscriminately.
In fact, the AHA did — and still does — recommend eating only one egg a day (so much for that three-egg omelet you were craving).
Moreover, as nutritionist Teresa Rull Reveles (who also spoke during the press conference) said, both the AHA and the INA recommend that eggs only be eaten when they are fully cooked (no runny whites or yolks) to kill any potential bacteria.
“Research on moderate egg consumption in two large studies found that eating one egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals,” said Rull Reveles.
Eggs are also not recommended for children under age 1.
“Of course, how you prepare your eggs and what your serve them with are factors that can influence dietary health,” admitted Rizo Trevino.
“Fried bacon and grease are not going to help your heart.”
Rull Reveles said that eggs are a much better option for breakfast than sugary cereals or sweet breads, and they are filling so they help curb the urge for mid-morning snacking.
Eggs are a much better option for breakfast than sugary cereals or sweet breads, and they are filling so they help curb the urge for mid-morning snacking.
Some of what Rull Reveles said – such as a claim she made that eggs can help prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the elderly – had no scientific backing. (According to the U.S. National Institute of Aging: “Although scientists have conducted numerous studies, and more are ongoing, so far nothing has been proven to prevent or delay dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.”)
But for the most part, what the two nutritionists said is valid and based on solid medical research.
“Eggs are one of nature’s perfect foods,” said Rizo Treviño,
“They are inexpensive, easy to prepare, go with almost any food, taste delicious and are packed with nutrition.”
Mexico is the third-largest egg producer in the world, right behind China and the United States, with an annual production of 2.8 billion tons annually, according to the INA.
Jalisco is the country’s largest egg-producing state, accounting for 54 percent of all national output.