Friday, February 07, 2014

Eggs and cholesterol: The current thinking on the subject Link to article

When I was young boy, my mum used to always cook an egg for me for breakfast.  For those of us who grew up in the 70's and before, the egg was good, healthy food and I often remember people in those days bringing eggs to the Char Kway Teow or Roti Prata man to have them add it into their dish to enhance it.

In between then and now, the egg became a sort of poster boy for high cholesterol food.  So much so that people started to cut down on eggs.  I am sure you know of people who would eat the egg white and leave the egg yolk behind.  The message that eggs were high in cholesterol and would thus lead to high blood cholesterol was so well marketed that it became entrenched in everyone's mind.

In recent years, the thinking about eggs has changed.  Not only have egg producers managed to lower the cholesterol content of eggs, but there have been studies that show that there is no link between eating eggs and high cholesterol levels.  In these studies, people who were given two eggs to eat daily showed no significant increase in cholesterol levels compared to those who didn't eat eggs.  As a result of this new information, the heart foundation are now telling us that eggs are nutritious and a healthy part of a balanced diet. 

I often have to counsel parents with kids who are finicky eaters.  You know, those who are slightly underweight and don't eat very well.  My advise is always to give these kids an egg for breakfast in the morning. Eggs are packed full of goodness and they are a good source of healthy protein for growing kids. Unlike adults, kids actually need cholesterol because they are the building blocks for growth.  And, it's certainly healthier for your child to eat a soft boiled egg for breakfast than having those sweetened cereals and fruit juices which have so much added sugar! 

Now before you go out and binge on eggs, let me just remind you that eating an hard boiled egg is good but eating an egg fried in butter is not as the butter is high in saturated fats.  Same goes for eating that extra slice of cake.  There are eggs in cake but there is also (most of the time) saturated fats like butter which is not good for your cholesterol levels.  Same goes for that bowl of ramen.  It might be ok to eat that egg, but the ramen soup is full of pork lard which is high in saturated fats! So please, what I am saying about eggs refer to just the egg alone!  You still need to take note of how it is prepared!

One last word on eggs.  When you buy your next tray of eggs, do take note of the nutritional information on each tray.  Nowadays, egg farmers are feeding their chickens which different feeds which can really lower the cholesterol levels of eggs and increase Omega 3 fatty acids.  So if you are still concerned about cholesterol levels (especially those with heart conditions) you can actually buy eggs which are lower in cholesterol!

At the end of the day, always remember that the bottom line to a healthy diet is balance.   A diet that is higher in fruits and vegetables and less in meats, fats and sugar is a good balanced diet and the egg can be a nutritious and inexpensive part of that diet.

1 comment:

Kwok Kar Peng said...

Hi Dr Tay,
thanks for this post! When my son was still a baby, the paediatrician advised us to give him one egg yolk a day in his porridge when he started on solids. At that time, we were a bit sceptical but we followed the good doc's advice anyway.

When my friend had her baby, her mother-in-law made a huge fuss, about how eggs are so unhealthy, how can you give your baby one egg a day, etc.

Anyway, my 5-year-old LOVES eggs now, and i'll certainly feel better after reading your post and won't have any qualms giving him one hard-boiled a day.