Loving the BITE: Eggs Are Good
Here we go again. A few weeks ago, you may have read headlines that seemed to confirm it once and for all: Eggs yolks are worse for your heart than cigarettes. That seems pretty bad. Especially for a cyclist striving for health and great performance on the bike. With a headline like this, there must be a slam-dunk, solid study, right? Surely, only with substantial evidence would one make such a statement. Newspapers, evening news, and online sources are all claiming it. Not so fast. Welcome to Nutrition Research.
I’ve read the report and I’ve read the study, and I still love eggs, including the yolks. I still recommend them. I think they are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals for cyclists who want to consume them. Within a whole-food diet, I do not believe they are a risky food…in fact, I think they are beneficial. Am I turning a blind-eye? No, I’m simply using both of my good ones to read and understand this study, along with the myriad of studies that show no correlation of eggs (and egg yolks) with heart disease or mortality. This week, we’ll talk eggs and the ins and outs of this particular study.
Recipe of the Week: Curried Egg Salad
- 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled (see bonus recipe) – Cage-free, vegetarian fed, high omega-3
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt
- 1 Tbsp chopped chives, green onions, or shallots
- 1/4 cup minced celery
- Dash of cayenne, more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Roughly chop peeled, hard-boiled eggs and place in medium bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.
- Serve in sandwiches, in lettuce leaves, or by itself.
Along with a whole-food carbohydrate source, eggs, and this egg salad, make for an excellent recovery option to promote muscle retention and growth after stressing muscles in training.
If these headlines are true, and eggs are so bad, why in the world would I recommend them? After all, I do write these posts with both your wellness and cycling goals in mind. With this in mind, the take-home message of this week’s Loving the Bite is simple: Look beyond the headlines – always. Whether you decide to keep eggs in your diet or not, here’s what you should know about this most current study (and what you should always look for in other studies):
- This study is NOT one that can establish cause and effect. Typically, people assume a study is set up with 2 or more groups. One gets eggs, one doesn’t. In this case, maybe a 3rd group gets cigarettes, and a 4th gets cigarettes AND eggs (you can see why a study like that would not be ethical). Results for stroke risk are noted (in this study, researchers measured carotid-wall thickness, an indicator of heart-disease risk) before and after the study. The egg group’s risk increases significantly more than the others. Headlines are written.
Unfortunately, this was not the case (and seldom is). Instead, elderly people who had survived strokes were asked about specific eating and smoking habits over their lifetimes. Then, it was determined that survivors who reported more egg had the greatest heart disease risk and carotid-wall thickness. All this, based on memory. Humans, at any age, are horrible at this sort of thing and generally under and over report intake when remembering what they ate even a month ago.
- Other dietary foods were not considered. Just eggs. Could it be that the egg consumers were eating them on top of a slice of white toast? With pancakes on the side? Cooked in butter? Or margarine? Or (gasp) bacon? I don’t know, because these foods were not considered, just egg intake. Guess what else wasn’t considered? Exercise habits. Waist Circumference. Stress levels. Hmmm, you think those might have had an effect? We KNOW these factors contribute to strokes.
- Guess who had eaten the most eggs? The oldest participants – on average 15 years older than the ones who had not eat as much. Maybe because they had 15 extra years to eat them. Guess who had the most stroke risk? The oldest participants – on average 15 years older than the ones who had lesser risk. Coincidence? Doubtful as it’s generally accepted that our arteries harden and stroke risk indicators (trustworthy or not) increase as we age.
- Researchers associated with the statin industry. Money makes the world go round, and this is certainly true in medical and nutrition research. One reason I’ve never allowed myself to become associated with, or make money from any specific brand of supplement or nutrition product is as soon as money is directly involved, it becomes very hard to remain unbiased and remain credible. When researchers already have established ties, it’s hard to trust their conclusions.
Why is this important to us cyclists? It is important for anyone who cares about his/her health and nutrition to be very leery of medical/nutrition research news coming from newscasters. And, since you’ve read this far, I know you consider your health important. Many times, the headlines and write-ups are out of context, exaggerated, or simply wrong in order to generate ratings and drama. This is a big source of confusion among the public. It is absolutely worthwhile to read studies, or read commentary from a trustworthy source, not the general media.
And lastly, eggs are a nutrition powerhouse (click here for more info). However, they are not necessary for health, and if you don’t want to eat them, don’t. But don’t make a decision based on headlines from a weak study.
Bonus Recipe: Bulk “Hard Boiled” Oven Eggs
Did you know you can “hard-boil” eggs in the oven? Simply place one dozen eggs (cage-free, vegetarian fed, high omega-3) in a muffin tin. Place in pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes. Once cooked, place eggs in a bowl of ice-water until cooled.
Love ‘em, hate ‘em or indifferent, you’ll likely hear about eggs in nutrition and medical news for years to come. When you do, if it’s important to you, I urge you to get to the bottom of the headlines (of egg, pharmaceutical and cycling nutrition studies). And keep in mind, whole, real foods are seldom the issue. Years of processed food consumption and inactivity, on the other hand, usually are. On that note, it’s a great time to get out on the bike, right?
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.
Curried Salad photo c/o trialx.org