Sensational Headline Says Eating Eggs Is “Almost” As Dangerous As Smoking. So, What’s The Truth?
Dr. Myatt answers patient questions – with a forward by Nurse Mark
It seems that a Canadian researcher and professor at the University of Western Ontario by the name of Dr. John David Spence is once again enjoying a few minutes basking in the glow of media attention. In a press release titled “Research finds egg yolks almost as bad as smoking” which discusses a research article by Spence and co-researchers Jenkins and Davignon titled “Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque” the doctor continues his long-standing crusade against cholesterol, eggs, and egg yolks in particular with a retrospective study that asked participants to remember how many eggs they ate and how many cigarettes they smoked in past years.
It is no surprise that the press worldwide has seized upon this rather dramatic headline and parroted it in sensational article after sensational article, panicking their readers and leading a number of our HealthBeat News readers to write us to ask for the truth.
One of those who wrote is a university professor, scientist, and doctor who is also a patient of Dr. Myatt. Since his diet is now The Myatt Diet and liberally includes eggs he was concerned that there might be any basis to this research.
Here is Dr. Myatt’s answer to Dr. Keith:
Let’s look at this “study.” It wasn’t an intervention study, it was a retrospective, “questionnaire” study.
That means it is in the same category as “The Rooster Crowing Brings the Sun Up.” Please read here to remind yourself how this works. This is an excellent article if I do say so myself.
Secondly, other variables were not examined. Do egg yolks really cause atherosclerosis in people consuming a low-carb diet? We don’t know if the remainder of diet composition makes a difference because that wasn’t looked at. Even the authors of the paper you cite state, “this hypothesis should be tested in a prospective study with more detailed information about diet, and other possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference,” meaning other variables can cloud the issue.
I submit to you that the remainder of the diet makes a HUGE difference as to whether or not egg yolks or other cholesterol-containing foods have a deleterious effect.
Fats and cholesterol are not problem foods. They only become so when the diet is high in carbs. It is actually the carbs that are inflammatory and atherogenic. (1-4)
There’s been a lot of wrong things said about fats including saturated fats.
The “dietary cholesterol causes high cholesterol” debate is in serious question because the data which “support” this position are inconclusive, spotty and with much conflicting evidence. Read “Saturated Fats: Another Big Fat Lie” to learn more.
Finally, and not least of all, I have been using a low-carb diet with patients for 23 years now, which has given me the opportunity to observe how health changes including cardio risk factors, diabetes and even cancer. These things always get better when the diet is followed correctly. (Some people claim they are following the diet but an examination of a diet diary can reveal that they are cheating enough so as to be “not doing it”.)
Remember, for any question, you will find published studies on both sides of an issue. There is almost never “black and white” in medicine or in anything else. So one must consider the preponderance of evidence, and how well-done and interpreted the studies are, and if the researchers had any bias, etc. etc. Just because you find one contrary study about eggs does NOT a “smoking gun” make!
In case you want to see some evidence on the other side of the equation, here are just a few of the many scientific studies which show that low-carb diets –which typically include eggs “ad libitum” — prevent atherosclerosis and high-carb diets promote atherosclerosis. (see references 4-15)
And with this current defamation of eggs yolk, I must defend their honor. Egg yolks are chock-full of “super nutrients” including:
- lutein and zeaxanthin: two carotenoids which help protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration.
- choline: a B-vitamin-like essential nutrient needed for structural integrity, cell-signaling and acetylcholine synthesis. Choline is a major source of methyl groups which are are required for liver function, cellular replication, and detoxification reactions.
- lecithin / phosphatidyl choline: needed for cell membrane integrity and intracellular communication
- essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D, and K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin, B6, folate, B12, and panthothenic acid
Anything else I can clarify for you today? If not, go eat an egg…!!!
1.) Torres-Gonzalez M, Shrestha S, Sharman M, Freake HC, Volek JS, Fernandez ML.
Carbohydrate restriction alters hepatic cholesterol metabolism in guinea pigs fed a hypercholesterolemic diet. J Nutr. 2007 Oct;137(10):2219-23. [Dr. Myatt’s Note: I’m not ordinarily impressed with animal studies but guinea pigs do not produce endogenous vitamin C and neither do humans, making them one of the best experimental animals for human research.]
2.) Kopp W. The atherogenic potential of dietary carbohydrate.Prev Med. 2006 May;42(5):336-42. Epub 2006 Mar 15.
3.) Faghihnia N, Tsimikas S, Miller ER, Witztum JL, Krauss RM. Changes in lipoprotein(a), oxidized phospholipids, and LDL subclasses with a low-fat high-carbohydrate diet. J Lipid Res. 2010 Nov;51(11):3324-30. Epub 2010 Aug 16.
4.) Wood RJ. Effect of dietary carbohydrate restriction with and without weight loss on atherogenic dyslipidemia. Nutr Rev. 2006 Dec;64(12):539-45.
5.) Feinman RD, Volek JS. Low carbohydrate diets improve atherogenic dyslipidemia even in the absence of weight loss. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006 Jun 21;3:24.
6.) Leite JO, DeOgburn R, Ratliff J, Su R, Smyth JA, Volek JS, McGrane MM, Dardik A, Fernandez ML. Low-carbohydrate diets reduce lipid accumulation and arterial inflammation in guinea pigs fed a high-cholesterol diet. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Apr;209(2):442-8. Epub 2009 Oct 12. [Dr. Myatt's Note: I'm not ordinarily impressed with animal studies but guinea pigs do not produce endogenous vitamin C and neither do humans, making them one of the best experimental animals for beginning human research.]
7.) Westman EC, Feinman RD, Mavropoulos JC, Vernon MC, Volek JS, Wortman JA, Yancy WS, Phinney SD. Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Aug;86(2):276-84.
8.) Volek JS, Fernandez ML, Feinman RD, Phinney SD. Dietary carbohydrate restriction induces a unique metabolic state positively affecting atherogenic dyslipidemia, fatty acid partitioning, and metabolic syndrome. Prog Lipid Res. 2008 Sep;47(5):307-18. Epub 2008 Mar 15.
9.) Adam-Perrot A, Clifton P, Brouns F. Low-carbohydrate diets: nutritional and physiological aspects. Obes Rev. 2006 Feb;7(1):49-58.
10.) Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr;88(4):1617-23.
11.) Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, Kim S, Stafford RS, Balise RR, Kraemer HC, King AC. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA. 2007 Mar 7;297(9):969-77.
12.) Grieb P, Klapcinska B, Smol E, Pilis T, Pilis W, Sadowska-Krepa E, Sobczak A, Bartoszewicz Z, Nauman J, Stanczak K, Langfort J. Long-term consumption of a carbohydrate-restricted diet does not induce deleterious metabolic effects. Nutr Res. 2008 Dec;28(12):825-33.
13.) Kim JY, Yang YH, Kim CN, Lee CE, Kim KI. Effects of very-low-carbohydrate (horsemeat- or beef-based) diets and restricted feeding on weight gain, feed and energy efficiency, as well as serum levels of cholesterol, triacylglycerol, glucose, insulin and ketone bodies in adult rats. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008;53(3-4):260-7. Epub 2009 Jan 9.
14.) Seshadri P, Samaha FF, Stern L, Chicano KL, Daily DA, Iqbal N. Free fatty acids, insulin resistance, and corrected qt intervals in morbid obesity: effect of weight loss during 6 months with differing dietary interventions. Endocr Pract. 2005 Jul-Aug;11(4):234-9.
15.) Yancy WS Jr, Olsen MK, Guyton JR, Bakst RP, Westman EC. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2004 May 18;140(10):769-77.
Posted in Health Questions, Heart and Circulation, Nutrition and Health | No Comments »