A daily egg lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease
- because of the many antioxidants
A new Chinese study that is published in the science journal, Heart, shows that eating an egg every day can lower your risk of stroke by 26 percent. The reason is that eggs contain selenium and other powerful antioxidants that protect against atherosclerosis, and we do not get all that much selenium from our diets. Therefore, forget all about the cholesterol scare and warnings against eating eggs. That dietary advice is outdated and has done more harm than good.
Coronary occlusion is the leading cause of death worldwide. This disease is also known as ischemic heart disease because of the atherosclerotic plaque that limits the oxygen supply to the heart muscle (ischemia means lack of oxygen). Ischemic heart disease develops gradually, and the symptoms include chest pain (angina pectoris) during physical and strenuous work, heart attack, heart failure, and sudden death.
Atherosclerosis is a result of deposits of oxidized cholesterol and fat on the inside of the coronary arteries, which causes a thickening of the arterial wall. As time goes by, the oxygen supply is impaired, and blood platelets are more likely to form a clot. The atherosclerotic buildup of plaque typically occurs in the coronary arteries, aorta, and in the arteries of the brain, the kidneys, and the legs. Stroke is sudden neurological damage caused to the brain by a cerebral hemorrhage, a blood clot, or ischemia.
A thing to make a note of is that the cholesterol we get from our diets does not determine whether the cholesterol oxidizes or not. Therefore, the cholesterol content in eggs makes no difference to your risk of atherosclerosis. Moreover, atherosclerosis can develop in any person, regardless of his or her cholesterol levels.
The Chinese study concludes that eggs prevent cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis are also the leading cause of death in China. However, earlier studies have not been able to show a direct link between egg consumption and health. A group of scientists from Peking University therefore decided to study the relation between egg consumption and the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke.
The researchers used data from an earlier study (CKB - China Kadoorie Biobank) of more than half a million adults aged 30-79 years from 10 different parts of China.
The participants were recruited during the period 2004-2008 and asked about their habitual egg consumption. The study was followed up with focus on disease and death among the participants.
The scientists found that those people who ate eggs regularly generally had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This was particularly true for those who ate an egg every day. Compared with those who did not eat eggs at all, daily egg eaters had a 26 percent lower risk of stroke. The risk of ischemic heart disease was 12 percent lower among those who ate an egg nearly every day (around five eggs per week) than among those who rarely or never ate eggs.
Based on their findings, the scientists concluded that there is a link between moderate egg consumption and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Eggs are packed with essential nutrients
Eggs from chickens (and other birds) contain all the nutrients that the fetus needs in order to survive. In a sense, an egg is like a complete lunch box. The yolk contains a lot of cholesterol, which is an essential nutrient that we have in all our cell membranes, and which we need to produce sex hormones, stress hormones, vitamin D, and coenzyme Q10. The egg white contains a substantial amount of protein and a perfect balance of different amino acids, which are building blocks of protein. In addition, eggs contains lots of vitamins and minerals plus lecithin, lutein, and other biologically active substances that help counteract atherosclerosis.
It is free radicals, not cholesterol, that cause atherosclerosis
As mentioned, cholesterol is essential. The so-called LDL cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein) is not dangerous unless it is attacked by free radicals that make it oxidize. Oxidized cholesterol is what you find in the atherosclerotic plaque that lines the vessel walls. Free radicals are aggressive molecules, which are a natural byproduct of our own respiration. The amount of free radicals is heavily increased by things like infections, poisoning, smoking, stress, ageing, and diseases like type 2 diabetes. Our only natural protection against free radicals are different antioxidants. Eggs are particularly important, as they provide vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, and lutein, all of which are powerful antioxidants.
Eggs, selenium, and blood clots
100 grams of egg contain 22 micrograms of selenium. In Denmark, the daily reference intake level (RI) for selenium is 55 micrograms, but many Danes get far less due to factors such as nutrient depletion of the soil and dietary changes. Selenium belongs to the group of highly powerful antioxidants called GPx. In countries where the diet is rich in selenium and may provide as much as 100-200 micrograms daily, coronary thrombosis is relatively rare. This was demonstrated in a review article in 1975 by R. Shambarger, a researcher from Cleveland, United States.
American dietary guidelines have acquitted cholesterol but not sugar
According to the official American dietary guidelines from 2015-2020 (Dietary Guidelines for Americans), the previous warnings against cholesterol have been retracted. Cholesterol is now seen as a nutrient that does not pose a health threat, even when consumed in larger quantities. However, the new dietary guidelines now include limitations for sugar. Daily sugar consumption should not exceed 10 percent of the daily calorie consumption.
Did you know that the liver makes most of its cholesterol from carbohydrate?
Eggs stabilize the blood sugar, which is often unstable in people with cardiovascular disease
Many people who suffer from cardiovascular disease also have unstable blood sugar and insulin resistance, where the uptake of sugar in cells is impaired. Insulin resistance is part of something called metabolic syndrome, which is also characterized by elevated cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and too large waist circumference. Metabolic syndrome is an early stage of type 2 diabetes, a disease that is spreading like a bushfire. Because elevated cholesterol levels are often caused by disturbances in the glucose metabolism, it is important to control your blood sugar levels if you want to take proper care of your circulatory system. Eggs are highly useful for this purpose, as they contain healthy and complete proteins and fats, which help provide satiety and stabilize blood sugar levels.
100 grams of egg from a free-range chicken contains:
Daily egg consumption may reduce cardiovascular disease. BMJ. May 21, 2018
Harlan Krumholz. Inflammation: Is it the New Cholesterol? Pharma & Healthcare Medicine. August 2017
Niels Hertz. Selen – et livsvigtigt spormineral. Ny Videnskab 2002
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