Yolk or no Yolk? How do you want your eggs?
With easter just behind, let's talk eggs!
(Sorry I’m not talking about chocolate eggs here....)
It seems that eggs are regularly a filler piece in health news. One day you read they are bad for you and another day they are good for you, or for those publications that don’t want to take a risk... moderation is your best bet!
Yolk or no yolk, scrambled, boiled, poached or as an omelette, there are many ways to have them. The question is...which came first? The chicken or the egg? Just kidding!!
I won’t attempt to answer the question here, instead let's try to answer a question that has created numerous health related article titles:
Are eggs good or bad for you? Are they healthy or can too many eggs undermine your health?
Well – it’s both.
Yet again, eggs confuse us all by being both nutritious, but also associated with certain health risks and health benefits.
Why is that? Guess what? It all depends on your genes!
As you may know by now, nutrition is an individual business and the baseline of healthy eating remains the same for everyone. We are all different when it comes down to genetics and how certain types of food alter the expression of our genes.
Egg yolks are the richest dietary source of choline, an essential nutrient for liver health, muscle function and synthesis of the neurotransmitter ‘acetylcholine’, which promotes relaxation.
Choline deficiency can lead to many unwanted symptoms and conditions. It is imperative to include choline-rich foods such as egg yolks, liver, meat, salmon, peanuts, beans and cauliflower in your diet.
Do your genes increase your needs for dietary choline?
Your need of choline differs from mine. Individual need for choline is influenced by genetics.
The PEMT gene is responsible for synthesising choline in the liver and its expression is under the control of oestrogen levels in the body.
About 1 in 4 people have a PEMT risk variant that compromises their ability to synthesise choline.
These people must make sure to get enough choline in their diet.
A recent study from the University of North Carolina suggests that women who consumed more choline had a reduced risk of breast cancer. The study involved 3,000 women and concluded that those who got the most of the nutrient had a 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
What about eggs and cholesterol?
Choline-rich foods are often high in cholesterol. People with an impaired ability to handle cholesterol, such as those with an E4 variant in their APOE gene, should limit egg yolks in their diet to no more than two per day.
Do you eat eggs? Do you plan to continue?
I grew up with the idea that eggs were a healthy way to get protein for breakfast, and as a child I was lucky enough to get them directly from our hen’s nest at the back of my garden.
Then came the news they contained the dreaded cholesterol. Later researchers discovered that the cholesterol in eggs wasn’t all that problematic, and eggs started to look like a great convenient choice again.
Cholesterol has been on the ‘naughty’ list of nutrients for nearly 40 years, with health officials warning us to stay away from high-cholesterol foods since the 1970s to avoid heart disease and clogged arteries.
I probably eat about 7-8 eggs a week myself, the kind with a bit of an Omega-3 boost, and don’t plan to stop. But US officials have finally given the green light for a U-turn on previous warnings, which means eggs, butter, full-fat dairy products, nuts, coconut oil and meat have now been classified as ‘safe’ and have been officially removed from the ‘nutrients of concern’ list.
While this is victory for some, it isn't true for everybody.
We are all different in the way we absorb, transport and metabolise fats. Our genetic variants are what will determine whether or not we should minimise our fat intake. For those with a genetic variant where fat absorption could be an issue, a Mediterranean diet is your best bet.
So eat your eggs and enjoy good fats, the danger remains in the dosage. Knowing what your genes variations are however will definitely give you the extra edge to achieve optimal health with a more targeted approach to your health, by knowing if the consumption of ‘bad cholesterol’ (butter, cheese or meat etc.) could potentially be a problem for you.