Karen Sherwood for Nutritious America
I asked her what she’s been eating the last six months. She quickly pulled a list from her doctor out of her purse, detailing all the things she was to omit from her diet. I took it and read, while she scanned my facial expression for reassurance. On this list I saw butter, cheese, red meats, ice-cream, shell-fish, and egg yolks. Then she told me that a typical breakfast for her was three egg whites, a large glass of no-pulp orange juice, vanilla skim latte, and a low-carb bagel. “I stay away from egg yolks all all cost,” she said. Her lunch was typically a 6-inch Subway sandwich, fat-free chips, and a Diet Coke. She told me that sugary sodas and salty chips were necessary for her to beat her typical afternoon slump (along with two more cups of coffee), but they were all “fat-free” so the doctor said it was fine. Later, dinner was a Chinese-chicken salad and a few glasses of wine.
I see this over and over again. It is the situation of a client who has been given partial information. What I don’t understand is, when did something as natural as an egg become villainized and substituted with baked Goldfish crackers in efforts to control cholesterol levels? Sometimes, in an attempt to be healthy, a client can end up causing more harm than good to his or her body. It’s simply a matter of not knowing the facts.
So Let’s Take a Look at the Egg.
It’s time to dive into the nutritional information of this “bad boy.” First of all, as it turns out, over 98% of all the vitamins and minerals in an egg reside in the yolk. The yolk is one of the first things many dieters foolishly cut out! The yolk contains vitamin B12, calcium, and B6 – all vital nutrients. It also contains folate, my favorite B-vitamin, which studies have shown actually helps lower cholesterol! In the whites?: NADA. On top of that, all of the fat-soluble vitamins (A-D-E and K) that are responsible for immune function, bone health, thyroid function, and cancer prevention are also found in the yolks. Yes, the whites themselves are a wonderful source of protein, niacin, and potassium but people are missing out on a lot when they eat only half of a whole food. Once again (just like in the 80s when we all thought we’d lose weight gorging on Snackwells’ fat-free chocolate cookies) we have become afraid of the wrong things.
Cholesterol is crucial to the body. Are you going to make me say it? FINE… YOUR SEX HORMONES ARE MADE FROM CHOLESTEROL! Yes it is true, one thing a lack of cholesterol can do is create hormonal deficiencies and affect the libido.
Cholesterol, per se, isn’t the problem (Just like fat, per se, wasn’t the problem in the 80s). What we really want to watch out for when it comes to hearthealth are high triglyceride and homocysteine levels along with CRP levels, which are indicators of inflammation in the body. What are examples of foods that raise inflammation? Ironically, chances are that they’re the ones you substituted for the eggs – refined carbohydrates, high sugar foods, excess caffeine, and alcohol are all contributors, along with smoking and lack of exercise.
I explained this information to my increasingly perplexed 44-year-old, weight-obsessed client and got a 44-year-old, weight-obsessed reply… “But the yolks are fattening.”
OK, I’ll give her a point for that. Eggs contain approximately 5g of fat and all of it is in the yolk. However, I usually recommend my clients eat between 10-12g of total fat per meal, which means that a person can safely eat two whole eggs per meal plus one or two whites for extra protein if necessary. Scramble those eggs with lots of veggies for extra nutrition, or try this recipe for breakfast burritos. Now there’s a delicious, heart-healthy breakfast!
I hope I have enlightened you “egg-white-only-gals” to go embrace the yolk and instead be afraid of other things (like..??? TRANS FAT???) Leave the innocent (and tasty) yolks where they belong. It’s time to nourish the chick in all of us!
(P.S. Nutritious America Approved eggs are: cage free, free roaming, organic and American Welfare Approved! Because happy chickens produce happy eggs!)