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The Functional Egg

Por MyDiet™ -

Apparently, all the bad press had something to do with the amount. Decades after having fallen from grace because of its exclusive connection with bad cholesterol, new studies restore eggs to their splendor and define them as "functional" foods.

The "Doctors' Health Study," a multi-centric project that has been registering American doctors' health information since 1981, confirmed that consuming 6 eggs a week doesn't present any mortality risks while consuming 7 or more eggs increases mortality risk from all causes by 23%.

The project, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also pointed out that if a person suffers from diabetes, the risk increases because the intestines absorb a greater amount of cholesterol in people with type 1 diabetes.

The study opened the debate again. Robert Eckel from the University of Colorado indicates that middle-aged men should be careful when it comes to consuming this food. Nevertheless, he also says that eggs are like any other food: they aren't "good" or "bad' and they can form a part of a heart-healthy diet.

According to the Institute of Egg Studies, primitive human beings may have started to eat eggs after observing how certain animals ate bird and reptile eggs. Later, this sporadic consumption would become more frequent, but limited to wild bird nesting periods. Hence, eggs started to form a regular part of the human diet.

It’s true that for hundreds of years eggs enjoyed a good reputation thanks to their nutritional profile as a food rich in protein and energy and for the substantial amount of vitamins and minerals they contain. However, information on cholesterol and heart disease began to circulate in the 1960s and this gave way to the first scientific links between diet and heart problems appearing in the media. The peak was reached when the American Heart Association released publications suggesting limiting cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg a day which entailed decreasing the consumption of certain foods, and specifically among these were eggs.

Up until 2007, although studies demonized eggs, they admitted that there was a weak correlation between consuming them and an increase in cholesterol. They proved that foods high in cholesterol didn't influence the amount of total cholesterol in the body as previously thought.

And since then, the process has been a vindication. Why? Because eggs provide antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. And they also provide enough phosphatidylcholine to cover the daily requirement of choline, a substance involved in the formation of acetycholine neurotransmitters. If this substance is lacking, it could result in hepatic degeneration, renal and pancreatic problems, memory loss, infertility, bone abnormalities, etc.

Within the definition of functional foods, the American Dietetic Association includes natural foods that haven't been enriched or fortified and provide concrete health benefits. Eggs are a natural food that can be classified within these parameters which is why some researchers already treat them as "functional."


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