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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are egg yolks bad for you?

    Related Topic
    Some of my female friends make scrambled eggs from just the egg whites. I also see in the grocery store that they sell cartons of egg whites without the yolk. Are egg yolks bad for you? Should I eliminate them from my diet or are there any nutritional benefits of egg yolks?
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  • 1

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    Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, ... View Profile

    No, in fact egg yolks are highly nutritious. The egg yolk is where most of the vitamins and minerals are so only eating egg whites is missing out nutritionally (and on taste!). Many people mistakenly believe that because egg yolks contain cholesterol then they increase blood cholesterol levels however this is not the case- the most important determinant of blood cholesterol level is the amount of saturated fat in the diet and eggs are low. There is no relationship between eating eggs and heart disease. Because of this, eggs are eligible to carry the the Heart Foundation Tick and the Heart Foundation says you can eat up to 6 eggs a week in a balanced diet. Eggs are really too good to miss, including the yolks.

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    Rebecca Charlotte Reynolds, PhD (Dr Bec) Personable and ethical registered nutritionist (RNutr) and lecturer at UNSW Australia in lifestyle and health. Regular consultant to the ... View Profile

    Great answer, Nicole.  I'd also suggest choosing more ethical eggs, e.g.
    http://www.rspca.org.au/shophumane/rspca-products/chicken/bendigo-valley-chicken/

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    Dr Michael Elstein

    GP (General Practitioner)

    I am an anti-ageing/wellness expert and author of ‘Eternal Health,’ and ‘You have the power.’ I have appeared on radio and television and currently have ... View Profile

    My research shows that there are two different camps when it comes to evaluating the effects of egg yolks on heart disease.

    One of the major protagonists of the camp who claim that egg yolks are not harmful is Maria Fernandes who hails  from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut.  She points out that when it comes to responding to dietary cholesterol, and egg yolks do contain almost 300mg of cholesterol, 75% of people are hypo-responders. In other words dietary cholesterol, such as that found in egg yolks will not alter their cholesterol levels.  However 25% are hyper-responders and do experience changes in their cholesterol when consuming this substance.  That being said her research indicates that when eggs including the yolks are consumed, HDL, the so-called good cholesterol increases along with LDL, the potentially harmful cholesterol, so that the ultimate result is a lack of evidence of an increased risk of heart disease, with the verdict according to her, tipping in favour of an actual benefit.

    The other point of view is proposed by David Spence who is located at the University of Ontario in Canada and his research shows just the opposite.  Spence points out that the feeding of egg yolks induces inflammation which is one of the promoters of heart disease and also disturbs the lining of blood vessels, another trigger for heart disease.  That egg yolks induce inflammation is also more pronounced in lean individuals, according to the research he cites.  Spence also points out that in one of the long term studies which looked at the potential benefit or harm of egg consumption, those participants who became diabetic during the course of the study experienced a marked increase in heart disease risk.  In fact there was  a doubling of cardiovascular disease in men who became diabetic and more importantly a significant increase in new-onset diabetes with regular egg consumption.

    Spence also indicates that the long-term study shows that regular egg consumption lead to an increase in mortality from all causes  with two recent studies pointing to an increase in new-onset diabetes with regular egg consumption.

    Spence points out that we often consume cholesterol in oxidised form, for example when we eat fried eggs.  But any cholesterol when heated becomes oxidised and this even applies to poached eggs. What oxidised cholesterol does is stimulate the blockage of blood vessels.
     Based on his research Spence warns against the indiscriminate consumption of cholesterol in eggs yolks and he would claim that all those who promote the benefit of eggs would be ignorant of the scientific evidence that he presents.

    Because I am a vegetarian and an egg eater my response to Spence's work is to cut back my egg consumption and to take an antioxidant supplement with egg consumption. 

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last ... View Profile

    Egg consumption is fine!!! Both the white and the yolk.  Numerous arguments have been made against eggyolks in the past, but in more recent studies there is agreement that in moderation eggs are acceptable. I would suggest 5 eggs per week. The cholesterol in eggs does not stimulate a high blood cholesterol this is generally from trans and saturated fats. In addition, ceratin people have the predisposition to produce excess cholesterol - and this is genetic, eggs are not going to amplify this condition. Obviously the method the egg is cooked will either increase or decrease their health implication. Boiling or poaching an egg is preferable to frying, especially if frying in saturated fats. Eggs get the go ahead from me, particularly for many people that are vegetarian and eggs is their major source of haem (animal) protein, iron and zinc which have a high bioavailibility. Eggs are also a good source of numerous other vitamins and minerals that cannot be discounted.

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    Dr Michael Elstein

    GP (General Practitioner)

    I am an anti-ageing/wellness expert and author of ‘Eternal Health,’ and ‘You have the power.’ I have appeared on radio and television and currently have ... View Profile

    Anyone interested in the scientific research which evaluates egg consumption can take a look at this study  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=David%20Spence%20and%20egg%20consumption 

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    branners

    Healthshare Member

    Hi, I thought I would put my two cents in. I am not a health professional and I can only talk on my own experiences (came accross this article while doing some research).

    For the last 5 - 6 years I have been eating 32 eggs per week (6 every morning Mon - Sat) as a part of my training program diet, I hard boil them and for each 6 egg serving I have 2 yolks. I too was worried about my choleseral levels as I had been told from early years that any more than 4 eggs per week was bad for you, that coupled with a love for bacon / pork I figured I was in a bit of trouble when going for a choleseral test.

    Basically, after warning the nurse that she may be in for a fright when doing the test the result was my choleseral was so low they couldnt measure it on the reader machine. Blood sugar levels etc were all normal as well.

    So although I keep up to date on new findings re eggs / yolks I find it hard to believe that they play any role in the increase of choleseral in people and continue to be my morning protein allowance for the day.


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    branners

    Healthshare Member

    Apologies for my shocking spelling of cholesterol.

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    Dr Michael Elstein

    GP (General Practitioner)

    I am an anti-ageing/wellness expert and author of ‘Eternal Health,’ and ‘You have the power.’ I have appeared on radio and television and currently have ... View Profile

    What your cholesterol test does not identify is the amount of your LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, that is oxidised.  Oxidised means attacked by free radicals and according to the research I have cited this is the type of cholesterol which might increase with consumption of egg yolk and you won't know about it.  My suggestion is to supplement with antioxidants while you eat eggs, to neutralise this potential downside.  For example drinking green tea might help.  This is just my take on a possible strategy.  Research has not yet been done to confirm that this is beneficial. 

  • Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been ... View Profile

    You may find this of interest - http://www.eggs.org.au/facts-and-tips/how-many-eggs-should-i-eat/

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