Unscrambling the Truth About Eggs

Are eggs really that "incredible" or are the industry's marketing strategies "incredible?" You might be surprised to learn how big industries use clever marketing strategies to boost the sale of their products. One technique that Dr. John McDougall talks about is called "unique positioning," which involves highlighting a particular nutrient which is plentiful in the product. For example, when calcium is mentioned, we think of milk and cheese. Omega-3 fatty acids is synonymous with eating fish, iron with beef, and eggs are well known as the "best source of high quality protein." "Focusing on the abundance of an individual nutrient," Dr. McDougall says, "diverts the consumer's, and often times the professional dietitian's, attention away from the harmful impact on the human body of consuming all kinds of animal foods." Highlighting one particular nutrient while downplaying the risks has proven to be a very effective and profitable marketing tactic. "Because these highly sensationalized nutrients are always plentiful in basic plant foods, illnesses from deficiencies of these nutrients are essentially unknown, as long as there is enough food to eat. Thus, there are no real nutritional advantages to choosing red meat, poultry, dairy, and egg products with an especially high density of one particular nutrient. Ironically, milk and cheese are iron deficient, and red meat, poultry, and eggs (unless you eat the shells) contain almost no calcium." Dr. McDougall goes on to say that in his 42+ years of treating patients, he has never seen one that has become ill from eating a whole plant-food diet. He does however, witness daily patients who suffer ill effects from eating animal-derived foods.

"According to their website" Dr. McDougall says, "The American Egg Board's mission is 'to allow egg producers to fund and carry out proactive programs to increase markets for eggs, egg products and spent fowl products through promotion, research and education.' As the egg industry's promotion arm, the American Egg Board's foremost challenge is to convince the American public that the egg is still one of nature's most nearly perfect foods. Their efforts are working: U.S egg production during 2003 was 73.93 billion table eggs – this means, on average, 235 eggs a year for every single man, woman and child in the country."

Keep in mind that The "American Egg Board (AEB) is the U.S. egg producer's link to consumers in communicating the value of the incredible egg." Their mission is "to increase demand for egg and egg products on behalf of U.S. egg producers." In 2010, The AEB announced its expenditures. The board had committed to spending "41% of its $20M income to advertising, 10% to agricultural education, 9% to nutrition, 7% to marketing communications and 6% to supporting activities of state organizations." The board had also funded "$1.5M in nutrition research projects on weight loss, choline requirements, the benefits of lutein for ocular function, and the relationship between egg consumption and blood lipid levels in consumers."

Nutritional Profile of Eggs

Eggs have always been advertised as being an excellent source of protein, vitamins and other nutrients which are essential for good health. Eggs do supply protein, vitamins and minerals; however, let's examine evidence from other sources not profiting from the egg industry.

Claim: According to Foodsafety.gov and the American Egg Board, "Eggs are one of nature's most nutritious and economical foods." "For only 70 calories each, eggs are rich in nutrients. They contain, in varying amounts, almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans as well as several other beneficial food components. Egg protein is the standard by which other protein sources are measured. A large egg contains over six grams of protein. A large egg has 4.5 grams of fat, only 7% of the daily value. Only one-third (1.5) grams is saturated fat and 2 grams are mono-unsaturated fat."

The table below displays the nutritional profile for two large whole eggs, which is the typical portion size. You'll notice that eggs do contain a few nutrients which are slightly higher than some plant foods, noted with an (*) in the table below. Although the American Egg Board states that "...one large egg provides 13 vitamins and minerals, including the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin" note that the nutrient content in collard greens and lentils exceeds that of eggs in 14 of the 22 categories, especially Vitamin A, Fiber, Vitamin C, Calcium, Lutein-Zeaxanthin and Vitamin K. Lentils are also higher in protein. Furthermore, eggs do not contain any vitamin C or fiber, which are found only in plant foods. A diet high in fiber is crucial in maintaining a healthy immune system and preventing illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, hypoglycemia, hormonal imbalances, and GI disorders. Lastly, pasteurized eggs "may have slightly lower amounts of heat-sensitive vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamin, and folic acid."

  2 Raw Eggs 1 Cup Cooked Collard Greens 1 Cup Cooked Lentils
Protein: 12.56 5.15* 17.86
Fiber: 0 7.6 15.6
Calcium 56 268 38*
Iron: 1.75 2.15 6.59
Magnesium: 12 40 71
Potassium: 138 222 731
Zinc: 1.29 .44* 2.51
Phosphorus: 198 61* 356
Vitamin C: 0 4.6 3
Thiamin: 0.040 0.076 0.335
Riboflavin: 0.457 0.201* 0.145*
Niacin: 0.075 1.092 2.099
Vitamin B6: 0.170 0.243 0.352
Folate: 47 30* 358
Vitamin B12: 0.89 0* 0*
Vitamin A (RAE): 160 722 0*
Vitamin A (IU): 540 14440 16*
Vitamin E: 1.05 1.67 0.22*
Vitamin D (D2+D3): 2.0 0* 0*
Vitamin D: 82 0* 0*
Vitamin K: 0.3 772.5 3.4
Cholesterol: 372 0 0
Lutein + Zeaxanthin 503 11,774 0*

Not only do whole plant foods provide sufficient essential nutrients, Dr. McDougall notes that they "contain powerful substances called phytochemicals, which scientists are now discovering protect us from cancer, heart disease, and an array of other serious illnesses. Plants are also the primary source of all minerals in our diet. Minerals are derived from the earth and make their way into the food supply via plants. The only reason animal foods contain any minerals at all is because the animals eat plants, or they eat animals that eat plants." The few nutrients which are higher in eggs, like Vitamin D and B-12 can easily be obtained from fortified foods, B-12 supplements, or sunshine. Vitamin D is actually a hormone that's produced when our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays from sunshine. Low levels can be an indication of low sunshine exposure. Dr. Michael Greger talks about vitamin D here . Dr. McDougall addresses vitamin D here and here . Many animal-based diet advocates point to the fact that plant-based diets are deficient in vitamin B-12. For this reason, they contend that plant-based diets are not natural or sustainable. Dr. McDougall responds by saying, "Although vitamin B12 is found in animal foods, it is not synthesized by plants or animals. Only bacteria make biologically active vitamin B12—animal tissues store bacteria-synthesized B12, which can then be passed along the food chain by animals eating another animal's tissues." More on Vitamin B12 can be found here.

Fact: Eggs Contain Few Antioxidants When Compared to Plant Foods

Now let's take a closer look at the significant levels of antioxidants that eggs are marketed to have. A quick search on the internet reveals dozens of websites touting the benefits of the antioxidants found in eggs. If you dig a little deeper though, you will find that the highest levels of antioxidants are found in whole plant foods and that "Eggs are almost devoid of antioxidants." (Nutrition Journal). Interestingly, the antioxidant content in Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies cereal is 1.56 while a whole egg is 0.02. A published study that measured the total antioxidant content of over 3,100 foods states: "When classifying the samples into the three main classes the difference in antioxidant content between plant- and animal-based foods become apparent. The results here uncover that the antioxidant content of foods varies several thousand-fold and that antioxidant rich foods originate from the plant kingdom, while meat, fish and other foods from the animal kingdom are low in antioxidants. Comparing the mean value of the 'Meat and meat products' category with plant based categories, fruits, nuts, chocolate and berries have from 5 to 33 times higher mean antioxidant content than the mean of meat products. Diets comprised mainly of animal-based foods are thus low in antioxidant content while diets based mainly on a variety of plant-based foods are antioxidant rich, due to the thousands of bioactive antioxidant phytochemicals found in plants which are conserved in many foods and beverages." Notice that cake frosting (page 32) and doughnuts (page 34) are higher in antioxidants than dairy or eggs (page 38). Dr. Greger's video regarding this comprehensive study illustrates how the maximum antioxidant content in animal foods is 100, while plant foods goes up to 289,000. Another video that compares antioxidant content can be seen here. On average, plant foods contain 64 times more antioxidant power than animal foods.

Selenium is another essential mineral that functions as an antioxidant. Although eggs are promoted as being an "excellent source" for their selenium content, one large egg contains a mere 15.4 mcg compared to approximately 95 mcg in one Brazil nut. In fact, Brazil nuts are an effective way to improve selenium status.

USDA scientists analyzed antioxidant concentration in more than 100 different foods. The findings were published in the June 9, 2004, issue of The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The top 50 foods scoring the highest in antioxidant content can be seen here. Notice that eggs (or in fact, any animal product) do not even make the list. Another method of rating antioxidant levels is by using the "Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity" (ORAC) system. The ORAC values of the highest rating foods can be seen in the USDA Database of Selected Foods. If you scroll all the way through the report, you'll notice once again that there's not a single animal product listed. The report states: "Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are considered to be an excellent source of antioxidants. Some minerals and vitamins have a role as dietary antioxidants. These include vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium." (All of which are plentiful in plant foods.) This report clearly demonstrates that whole plant foods offer superior protection against disease, not animal products. Remember, the two reports mentioned above were both analyzed and published by the USDA.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are carotenoids contained in many foods that play an important role in protecting our vision. These nutrients reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in those who are 65 years and older.

Claim: "Lutein and Zeaxanthin, two antioxidants found in egg yolks, help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of age-related blindness." "A large egg yolk contains 252 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin. Research has shown that, due to the egg yolk's fat content, the yolk's lutein and zeaxanthin may be more easily absorbed by the body than the lutein and zeaxanthin from other sources."

Dr. Michael Greger explains that eggs are marketed as being rich sources of these two carotenoids. He says, "The egg industry loves to boast that eggs have these two compounds, that appear so protective against cataracts and macular degeneration. What the industry does is feed hens yellow corn, alfalfa, even marigold petals, anything to boost the egg content up to 166 mcg per large egg." Eggs can have up to 250 mcg per egg, but one serving of collard green has over 18,500, a single serving of mustard greens contains over 14,500 and a serving of kale nearly 24,000 mcg. One spoonful of spinach has as much as 9 eggs. To protection our vision, the recommendation is to get 10,000 mcg a day. To achieve this, one would need to eat either 1/3 cup spinach or 40 eggs every day. The top ten sources of these two nutrients are all found in green vegetables. Dr. Greger's video demonstrating how "Eggs don't even make the top 100 food sources" can be seen here. Watch how far down the list eggs are. According to the USDA, eggs come in right behind Captain Crunch With Crunchberries. "There are more phytonutrients in crunchberries than there are in eggs." The highest concentration of Lutein and Zeaxanthin can also be seen here . After seeing these figures, the 166-252 mcg found eggs doesn't even come close to the concentration in green vegetables.

There are false and misleading advertising laws that prevent the egg industry from claiming that eggs are a good source of lutein (due to the insignificant amount) in an ad or on egg cartons, however they can make this statement on a website or TV. The USDA reminds the egg industry that they "Can't say it helps people with macular degeneration."

Choline Content

Claim: The egg industry heavily promotes the fact that egg yolks are an excellent source of choline (which supports healthy brain function) and that one egg provides 250 milligrams, which is nearly half of the recommended daily intake.

Fact: Choline Recommendations Are Not Clear - High levels Are Linked to Illness

The USDA Agriculture Marketing Service suggested to the egg industry that they "boast about the choline content in eggs" (one of the only two nutrients eggs are actually rich in, besides cholesterol.) As a result, they developed "advertorials" for nutrition journals which advertised eggs being an "urgent problem and eggs the solution." They also sent letters to doctors, conjuring up an "epidemic of choline deficiency" - insisting that "inadequate intake of choline has tremendous public health implications." Dr. Greger insists that "Most people get about twice what they need and, in fact, too much choline may be the real problem."

Dustin Rudolph Pharm.D., addresses this claim by saying, "Choline is an essential nutrient for many different metabolic functions including cell membrane functions, normal muscle functioning, and liver health. Eggs provide some of the highest amounts of choline of any food in the diet. However, the amount of choline humans actually need has not been well studied. The Institute of Medicine didn't even have enough scientific evidence to create a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for choline when it set out to provide the general public guidelines for the prevention of a dietary choline deficiency. Instead, they opted for creating an Adequate Intake (AI) level, which is basically their best educated guess based on the scant science available. The AI for men is 550 mg/day of choline and for women 425 mg/day. However, no study has ever nailed down an absolute minimum amount for avoiding a deficiency, and one study actually showed as little as 138 mg/day may be enough for some males to prevent a deficiency. Furthermore, most studies testing a choline deficiency in humans found that symptoms didn't present themselves until choline intake was less than 50 mg/day. What's even more concerning is that recent data over the past few years has been increasingly showing that too much choline can lead to heart disease, cancer, and death."

Protein

The Purpose of the Egg

According to Dr. John McDougall, "The purpose of a hen's egg is to provide all the materials necessary to develop the one cell into a complete chick with feathers, beak, legs, and tail. This miraculous growth and development is supported by a 1½ ounce package of ingredients – the hen's egg – jam-packed with proteins, fats, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals. As a result, the hen's egg has been called 'one of nature's most nutritious creations.' Indeed, an egg is the richest of all foods, and far too much of 'good thing' for people. This highly-concentrated food provides too much cholesterol, fat and protein for our body to process safely. The penalties are diseases of overnutrition – heart disease, obesity, and type-2 diabetes to name only a few consequences from malnutrition due to the Western diet."

Claim: "The egg is a complete protein food because egg protein has all nine of the essential amino acids (as well as all nine of the non-essential amino acids). Based on the essential amino acids it provides, egg protein is second only to mother's milk for human nutrition. A large egg contains 6.29 grams of high-quality protein, about 12.6% of the Daily Reference Value (DRV) for protein. Adequate dietary protein intake must include all the essential amino acids your body needs daily. These amino acids [in eggs] are present in a pattern that matches very closely the pattern the human body needs, so the egg is often the measuring stick by which other protein foods are measured."

Fact: Contrary to what we may have read or heard on the news, consuming eggs can contribute to developing risk factors for serious health problems. Dr. McDougall says that misinformation regarding human protein needs has led to disastrous outcomes.

"The primary importance of protein in our foods is to serve as a source of building blocks called amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids which build all the proteins in nature. We can make some of these, they do not have to be in our foods and therefore referred to as non-essential amino acids. Others we cannot synthesize and must be obtained from our foods, these are referred to as essential amino acids. Plants make all 20 amino acids. The body has highly efficient systems for reutilizing and conserving amino acids, and as a result, the need for protein (and amino acids) in our diet is very small. Dr. McDougall explains in detail how stomach acid and intestinal enzymes digest protein into individual amino acids here and his 3-minute video can be seen here.

"People worry more about protein in their diet than any other nutrient. All plants contain all of the amino acids in proper balance for ideal human growth. In other words, it is impossible to make up a diet deficient in protein or individual amino acids from any unrefined starches (rice, potatoes) and vegetables. You must get over this common myth. The only real problems with protein come from eating too much, usually the result of a diet high in animal foods."

In 1942, Dr. William Rose began studying the amino acid requirements for humans. His research concluded in 1952, resulting in sixteen papers in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Dr. Rose's amino acid requirements are listed under the "minimum requirements" column here. From this chart, it is clear that vegetable foods contain more than enough of all the amino acids essential for humans. The amino acid content in plant foods can also be seen on the USDA National Nutrient Database . Type in and select a food item, then click on "full report."

Many years ago, it was once thought that vegetarians had to combine certain foods in order to make a "complete protein." This is an old dietary myth that has been disproved long ago. When we eat a well-planned, whole-food, plant-based diet, we don't need to worry about combining foods in order to receive all of the necessary amino acids. More information regarding this myth can be seen here and here.

Dustin Rudolph Pharm.D. explains that "One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8.14 grams of protein." [More than an egg.] Eggs are praised for being the perfect source of protein. As far as the human body is concerned the 'perfect' source of protein would contain all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa would also then be considered the perfect source of protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids."

Fact: Current Protein Recommendations Are Based on Faulty Observations

Dr. McDougall points out: "People commonly believe - the more protein consumed the better. This faulty thinking dates back to the late 1800s, and was established without any real scientific research. Further confusion about our protein needs came from studies of the nutritional needs of animals." For example a study conducted in 1913 reported that "rats grew better on animal, than on vegetable, sources of protein." Consequently, animal products were classified as superior protein sources while plant proteins were labeled as inferior sources. "Seems no one considered that rats are not people. One obvious difference in their nutritional needs is rat milk is 11 times more concentrated in protein than is human breast milk. The extra protein supports this animal's rapid growth to adult size in 5 months; while humans take 17 years to fully mature." Dr. Joel Fuhrman adds: "Most people do not have a comprehensive knowledge of the world's nutritional literature and research and are not in a position to evaluate fraudulent claims." For more information regarding how our nutritional recommendations were established, see our article Current Protein Recommendations Flawed which explains this topic in greater detail.

Fact: Human Protein Needs Are Actually Low - Plants Supply Abundant Protein

Contrary to popular beliefs, human protein requirements are actually quite low. Dr. McDougall demonstrates this by saying, "Our greatest time of growth, which is the time of our greatest need for protein - is during our first 2 years of life - when we double in size. At this vigorous developmental stage, our ideal food is human milk, which is 5% protein. Breast milk is the 'gold standard' for nutrition – during your time of greatest need for all nutrients, including protein. Five to 6.3 percent of the calories in human breast milk are from protein. This is the maximum concentration of protein we will ever need in our food supply. Knowing this value tells us that at no other time in our life will we ever require more protein. Consider the protein content of the foods we consume after weaning – these are even higher in protein – rice is 8%, potatoes are 10%, corn is 11% and oatmeal is 15% protein. Thus, protein deficiency is impossible when calorie needs are met by eating unprocessed starches and vegetables."

Since 1974 the World Health Organization has recommended that "adults consume a diet with 5% of the calories from protein – this would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day. These minimum requirements provide for a large margin of safety. This quantity of protein is almost impossible to avoid if enough whole plant food is consumed to meet daily calorie needs. For example, rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly useable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein for a working man. For a pregnant woman the WHO recommends 6% of the calories come from protein – again an amount of protein easily provided by a diet based on starches, vegetables, and fruits." Without question, plant foods supply more than enough protein. This is very evident when we consider the diets of some of the world's largest animals. The elephant, rhinoceros, giraffe, buffalo, and cow utilize plant foods to grow and maintain their enormous size.

Fact: Extra Protein Promotes Illness

Dr. McDougall emphasizes that "A little protein is good, but more is not better. Protein consumed beyond our needs is a health hazard as devastating as excess dietary fat and cholesterol. Unfortunately, almost everyone on the typical Western diet is overburdened with protein to the point of physical collapse. The public has almost no awareness of problems of protein overload, but scientists have known about the damaging effects of excess protein for more than a century."

"A whole egg is 32% protein and the white of an egg is essentially 100% protein. Infants, growing children, and adults need, at most, 5% of their calories from protein. Therefore, eggs and egg products are 6 to 20 times more concentrated in protein than what we need. Excess protein places burdens on our body, and especially on organs of metabolism, the liver and kidneys. Animal proteins, and particularly those from egg whites, are high in the troublesome, sulfur-containing amino acids, such as methionine. Amino acids, as the name implies, are acids; the sulfur-containing amino acids are the strongest acids of all, because they break down into powerful sulfuric acid. Excess dietary acid is the primary cause of bone loss leading to osteoporosis and kidney stone formation. Excess sulfur-containing amino acids in your diet can adversely affect your health." A few examples are listed below:

Fact: Protein Deficiency is Impossible When Sufficient Calories Are Being Consumed

"Protein deficiency is really a food deficiency" Dr. McDougall convincingly argues. He reinforces his position by saying: "How many cases of the so-called 'protein deficiency state,' kwashiorkor, have you seen? I have never seen a case, even though I have known thousands of people on a plant-food based diet. Sixty percent of people alive today and most of the people who have lived in the past have obtained their protein from plant foods. They have lived successfully; avoiding all the diseases common in our society. Even today plant sources provide 65% of the world supply of the protein we eat. The picture one often sees of 'protein deficient' children in famine areas of Asia or Africa is actually one of starvation and is more accurately described as 'calorie deficiency.' When these children come under medical supervision, they are nourished back to health with their local diets of corn, wheat, rice, and/or beans."

Examples of Illnesses Associated With Egg Consumption

Eggs Promote Type 2 Diabetes

Facts: Studies show an association between egg consumption and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, those who have diabetes have a significantly higher rate of all-cause mortality.

Salmonella Food poisoning

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that commonly causes foodborne illness, or food poisoning. This bacteria can "silently infect the ovaries of healthy appearing hens and contaminate the inside of eggs before the shells are formed." Even though eggs appear to be normal, salmonella can be found on the inside as well as the outside of eggs. "Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, pregnant women, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness. This bacteria may also produce reactive arthritis, or Reiter's Syndromein some patients." "Anyone who has had salmonellosis may pass along the bacteria for several weeks after recovering."

Claim: "The chance of an egg becoming infected with SE is very low. If it is present in the egg, producers can control the growth through refrigeration and kill it with processes like pasteurization. The majority of salmonellosis outbreaks have been attributed to foods other than eggs -- nuts, vegetables, chickens, beef and fish -- and through cross contamination of utensils and other foods used during preparation. Of the outbreaks involving eggs, most have occurred in food service operations and have been the result of inadequate refrigeration and insufficient cooking." "Salmonella is killed by cooking and pasteurization."

Facts:

Claim: "Bacteria, if they are present at all, are most likely to be in the white and will be unable to grow, mostly due to lack of nutrients."

Facts

The egg industry states: The majority of reported salmonellosis outbreaks involving eggs or egg-containing foods have occurred in food service kitchens and were the result of inadequate refrigeration, and improper handling and insufficient cooking . Salmonellosis outbreaks are most often associated with animal foods, including chicken, eggs, pork and cheese, but have also been reported related to cantaloupe, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, orange juice and cereal, among other foods. Human carriers play a big role in transmitting some types of salmonellosis. Salmonella bacteria can easily spread from one food to another too." Notice how the egg industry not only faults human error as the source of most outbreaks, it directs attention away from salmonella in eggs to other foods such as tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts. The bacteria does not originate in these foods like eggs, these foods become contaminated by cow manure from a neighboring field, manure fertilizer, or rainwater runoff from livestock pastures.

Eggs Promote Cardiovascular Disease

Claims: Egg consumption is not associated with elevated cholesterol, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. "Studies demonstrate that healthy adults can enjoy an egg a day without increasing their risk for heart disease, particularly if individuals opt for low cholesterol foods throughout the day." "A wealth of research has shown that eggs do not have a significant impact on blood cholesterol levels, so it's not necessary to avoid egg yolks and you can use egg whites freely." More claims regarding the benefits of eggs can be seen here and here .

Facts: "Several studies not influenced by the egg industry have found that cholesterol intake does increase the total number of LDL particles in healthy people." Studies conducted by the egg industry use individuals that are obese, have high cholesterol, and are insulin resistant. These individuals are purposely selected for these studies because their cholesterol levels are already elevated and won't be affected with the addition of a few eggs. They are also "prepped" with high-fat meals. (See below.)

"A significant amount of the $14 million collected each year by the American Egg Board is allocated for research projects examining the effects of dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol levels in order to prove that eating eggs will not raise your risk of dying of heart disease. This is quite an endeavor when you consider eggs are the most concentrated source of cholesterol in the human diet – 8 times more cholesterol than beef. Dozens of papers published in scientific journals and funded by 'The Egg Nutrition Center' and/or the 'American Egg Board' downplay the hazards of eating eggs. So how do they demonstrate that eating loads of these cholesterol-filled delicacies has little effect on blood cholesterol? The trick is to saturate the subjects with cholesterol from other sources, like beef, chicken and/or fish and then add eggs to the person's diet. Once a person has consumed 400 to 800 mg of cholesterol in a day, adding more (like with an egg) causes little rise because the bowel cannot absorb much more cholesterol. Poor-quality studies, often funded by the egg industry, add to the false information they use to vindicate their products. The actual impact of egg-feeding is seen when people who eat little cholesterol are fed eggs. When 17 lactovegetarian college students (consuming 97 mg of cholesterol daily) were fed one extra-large egg daily for three weeks their "bad" LDL-cholesterol increased by 12%."

"Several controlled experiments have found that overweight compared to lean people, and insulin resistant compared to insulin sensitive people are less responsive to dietary cholesterol. This likely explains why researchers who have financial or personal connections with the egg industry have specifically selected overweight and insulin resistant participants with a modestly high baseline dietary cholesterol intake for controlled trials, as it can be pre-empted that this subgroup of the population will show little response when egg intake is increased."

"Adding dietary cholesterol to a diet that is low in cholesterol can significantly raise serum cholesterol in humans. An addition of 200 mg cholesterol per day to a cholesterol-free diet has been shown to raise serum cholesterol by as much as 20%. This may be largely explained by the strong evidence that dietary cholesterol down-regulates the LDL receptor. A ceiling effect at which adding additional dietary cholesterol to a diet already rich in cholesterol has little appreciable effect on serum cholesterol. Therefore, the fact that numerous studies carried out on populations with a relatively high baseline cholesterol intake failed to find a significant association between cholesterol intake and serum cholesterol does not negate the evidence that lowering intake to near zero will significantly lower serum cholesterol."

Eggs Contain Industrial Toxins - Dioxins

Facts: Eggs Contain Industrial Toxic Waste Compounds

"Every five years, our government measures the amount of dioxins in our food supply. Dioxins are toxic waste pollutants spewed out into the atmosphere that accumulate in the fatty tissues of humans, and food animals consumed by humans. The most significant exposure to dioxin-like compounds is thought to be dietary intake of animal and fish products." Using data from the EPA published last year, fish ranked the highest in these toxins, eggs came in second highest , and cheese came in third. This may explain why a recent study found that "just a half an egg a day or more was associated with about twice the odds of getting mouth cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, and voice box cancer. Three times the odds of getting colon cancer, about twice the odds of rectal cancer and lung cancer, three times the odds of getting breast cancer—just eating a half an egg a day or more. And about twice the odds of prostate cancer, bladder cancer and all cancers combined."

Animal Protein Promotes Cancer

Facts: Egg Consumption is Associated With Higher Rates of Cancer - This Could be Due to Animal Protein

Animal Products Promote Inflammation

Facts:

Scientists have now discovered that bacterial toxins found in our bloodstream following a meal of animal products is what causes an inflammatory response and occurs within hours after eating. These toxins result from high levels of bacteria found in animal products. For example, fresh hamburger can contain approximately a hundred million bacteria per quarter pounder. Although cooking kills the bacteria, the toxins are still present. Fascinating new research shows that bacterial endotoxins can survive cooking, stomach acid, and enzyme digestion. "After a meal of animal products, people suffer from endotoxemia, their bloodstream becomes awash with bacterial toxins, known as endotoxins. A single meal of meats, eggs, and dairy can cause a spike of inflammation within hours that can stiffen one's arteries ." Normal blood flow can be significantly reduced up to 50% lasting for up to 5-6 hours. Repeating this cycle with more animal products continues the progression of this inflammatory process. "This can set us up for inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers one meal at a time." Click on the above links to watch this three-part video response by Dr. Michael Greger, as he explains this process in greater detail.

Dr. Greger presents additional evidence linking animal products with inflammation in his video on arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid which is involved in our body's inflammatory response. Our bodies naturally produce all the arachidonic acid needed, so we don't require any from another source. This video shows how chicken and eggs are the top sources of arachidonic acid in the diet. Consuming animal products increases our levels, which can then set off an inflammatory response. This would explain why eliminating animal products in the diet offers relief for those that suffer from inflammatory conditions like arthritis .

The Egg Industry's Marketing Practices are "Incredible"

Facts:Approximately 20 years ago, the American Heart Association, along with several consumer groups, and the Federal Trade Commission, executed successful legal action which urged the egg industry to stop misleading and false advertising that eggs "had no harmful effects on health." This was upheld by the Supreme Court. This anti-cholesterol assault resulted in a reduction of egg consumption, causing severe economic loss to the egg industry. In response, the egg industry created the National Commission on Egg Nutrition to compensate from economic stress. Their ads declared that "There is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever that eating eggs in any way increases the risk of heart attack." Their ads contained seven claims, which the US Court of Appeals found "patently false, misleading, and deceptive."Since 1977, Dr. Michael Greger explains that "The American Egg Board has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to convince people that eating eggs are not going to kill them, and it's working. Research shows that the advertising has been effective in decreasing consumers' concerns over eggs and cholesterol heart health." Dr. Greger says that they are currently targeting their egg campaign to mothers. As part of their marketing campaign, The American Egg Board pays scientists $1500 to answer questions like "What studies can help disassociate eggs from cardiovascular health?" In order to keep the general public confused and misinformed, the egg industry resorts to many unethical measures (including bribery) highlighted in the videos in this section. Please take the time to watch these.

"The American Egg Board is a promotional marketing board appointed by the U.S. government whose mission is to 'increase demand for egg and egg products on behalf of U.S. egg producers.' If an individual egg company wants to run an ad campaign, they can say whatever they want, but if an egg corporation wants to dip into the 10 million dollars the American Egg Board sets aside for advertising, because the board is overseen by the federal government, corporations are not allowed to lie with those funds. This leads to quite revealing exchanges between egg corporations that want to use that money and the USDA on what egg companies can and cannot say about eggs." Dr. Greger's video explains how the USDA "warned the egg industry that saying eggs are nutritious or safe" may "violate rules against false and misleading advertising ." Listen carefully as Dr. Greger exposes the truth behind the industry's clever marketing tactics. Due to laws regarding false and misleading advertising, the UDSA emphasizes that eggs can't be advertised as being healthy or nutritious. For example, eggs can't be advertised as being a "diet" food, low in calories, saturated fat, or cholesterol. They also can't advertise eggs being a rich source of protein, omega 3s or a source of iron, folate, or even that they are good for you . By law, the egg industry "needs to steer clear of words like healthy or nutritious." "Egg corporations aren't even allowed to say things like 'Eggs are an important part of a well-balanced, healthy diet' on an egg carton because it would be considered misleading, according to the USDA's National Egg Supervisor since eggs contain significant amounts of fat and cholesterol, and therefore can contribute to the leading killer in the United States, heart disease. Not only is the industry barred from saying eggs are healthy, they can't even refer to eggs as safe, 'all references to safety must be removed.' because more than a hundred thousand americans are Salmonella poisoned every year from eggs. The American Egg Board's own research showed that the sunny-side up cooking method should be considered unsafe." Eggs cannot be advertised as safe, or healthful. "All 'references to healthfulness must be deleted' as well." Remember that the United States Department of Agriculture made these statements! Be sure to check out Dr. Greger's article: "Egg Industry Caught Making False Claims"

Dr. McDougall says the "Egg industry is out of control." The egg industry's $12 million annual budget promotes the sale of eggs using claims like: "An Egg a Day May Keep Heart Disease Away" or "...there's no need to avoid eggs on a heart-healthy diet." "Unfortunately, we live in a 'lawless wild west' when it comes to consumer protection from the big food businesses."

Conclusion

Dustin Rudolph Pharm.D., sums it up nicely by saying: "Eggs are often promoted as a health food through a confusion of misleading information highlighting the few nutrients and vitamins contained within them shown to be important to human health. Unfortunately, these claims are overstated while important scientific data on the health risks associated with egg consumption go unspoken, especially in terms of long term health. The cholesterol and fat content is usually downplayed as a source of concern when it comes to egg's overall effect on health by these same proponents. I believe it's important to look at the actual evidence when contemplating whether or not to eat eggs before making your decision. Relying on hearsay is of little benefit when it comes to your individual health. Foods that truly promote health should never show up in numerous scientific studies reporting an increased risk of developing potential debilitating diseases in those who consume them. It is this fact that should prompt anyone eating any food item (including eggs) to take a step back and evaluate whether or not the benefits/risks are worth it. Is there another way to accomplish what you want from a nutritional standpoint while improving your health instead of rolling the dice when it comes to certain foods? One has to decide whether the above health risks (cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes) are worth consuming eggs for the one or two individual nutrients found in higher amounts in eggs. The choice is always yours in the end. Ultimately, you are in charge of your health. What you eat today will surely affect you tomorrow. Make the most of your choices."

Additional Resources:

(1) Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets

(2) USDA Endorses Disease Promoting Foods

(3) USDA Dietary Guidelines = Conflict of Interests

(4) Dr. Carney's Pinterest board on USDA Guidelines