Cracking Open the Truth About Cholesterol

Egg crackingThe subject of cholesterol often comes up when I’m working with clients, especially when I recommend eggs for the amazing health benefits they provide. Eggs have been given a “bad rap” and as a result many people are missing out simply So much mis-information has been put out due to fear-based, incomplete information. I’m here to change that. I’m a huge fan of whole eggs for improving your overall health, so let me dispel your fears – specifically the ones about eggs possibly increasing your “bad” cholesterol and incidence of heart attacks or strokes.

Dr. Sherry Rogers writes in one of her many books The Cholesterol Hoax:

  • Cholesterol is not the cause of [hardening of the arteries] and is not dangerous until it is oxidized, and that’s easily prevented, without drugs.
  • Cholesterol is not the main cause of heart attacks. In fact, half the people who have a heart attack never had high cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is absolutely essential in the body for preventing the brain loss of Alzheimer’s.
  • Cholesterol is crucial in fighting off cancer, building our stress and sex hormones, making bile for digestion and detoxification, and protecting the body against aging and depression, as just a few examples.

The Power of Eggs for Health and Healing

I recommend to nearly all of my clients, most of whom are dealing with some level of fatigue, depression, hormone imbalances or perhaps more serious illnesses such as cancer, that they would do well to start adding more organic eggs into their diet — advice to which many of them panic. Let me explain to you what I share with them.

Eggs provide cholesterol that you need for:

  • Your brain and all cell membranes
  • Making sex hormones
  • Making adrenal stress hormones
  • Preventing Alzheimer’s disease
  • Preventing cancer and heart disease!

Eggs are also a great source of phosphatidylcholine(PC), which:

  • Causes plaque to dissolve away
  • Reduces the ability of blood to clot (reduces platelet aggregability)
  • Facilitates cholesterol metabolism
  • Improves blood flow
  • Decreases the LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
  • PC also reduces the damage done by LDL
  • When combined with vitamin C actually causes some lesions in the arteries to regress or melt away!

As Dr. Rogers asks, “How can you go wrong? In fact how can we survive without it?”

Still think eggs are the enemy?

I found some research that may finally makes sense of it all for you — it’s also information that broke my scrambled-egg-love’n-heart, simply because it turns out my favorite way of preparing eggs is the only way that eggs can actually become a problem.

The following, by Dr. Jonathan Wright, is probably the simplest explanation I’ve heard on the subject of cholesterol, as well as on eggs:

The egg risk you need to know about before you order your next omelet

Poached, hard-boiled, over easy or just about any way you cook them, eggs are good sources of nutrition. Except scrambled, that is.

You’ve probably heard numerous reports claiming that eggs are too high in cholesterol. But if you’re eating your eggs cooked in one of the ways listed above, that cholesterol isn’t likely to cause any damage to your heart or arteries.

To get a better understanding of why scrambled eggs are the only variety taking the blame, lets back up and go over how the whole cholesterol is bad for you myth originated in the first place.

Almost 100 years ago, now-famous Russian researcher Nikolai Anitschkov fed cholesterol to rabbits. When the rabbits developed atherosclerotic vascular disease, it was said to prove that cholesterol causes atherosclerosis.

Objections were raised, including the obvious: As born vegetarians, rabbits in Nature have never eaten cholesterol, and even lab rabbits show no inclination to eat cholesterol if there are tastier (to a rabbit) alternatives. Despite this, the myth that cholesterol itself causes atherosclerosis has persisted, fueled largely by manufacturers of cholesterol-lowering patent medications and their friends, ex-colleagues, and future colleagues working for los Federales.

But in a much-less-publicized experiment approximately half a century later, another researcher tried to duplicate Anitschkovs research. He too fed rabbits cholesterol, but, unlike Anitschkov, he was very careful not to allow the cholesterol to lie around the rabbit cages exposed to air, which causes it to oxidize quite rapidly. Surprisingly (except perhaps to this researcher) the rabbits did not develop coronary atherosclerosis. Their arteries remained clear.

What this follow-up study proved is that oxidized cholesterol, not cholesterol itself, can cause atherosclerosis in rabbits. However, as there’s no money to be made publicizing this detail, many people have never heard or read of it.

So where do scrambled eggs fit in? Well, when you cook scrambled eggs, you break the yolks. Since the yolks contain most of the eggs cholesterol, breaking and scrambling them allows that cholesterol to be exposed to much more air and heat than other cooking techniques that leave the yolk intact. That air and heat can cause the cholesterol in the scrambled egg yolks to oxidize before you even have a chance to eat them, potentially contributing to atherosclerosis.

This information isn’t meant to terrorize you into fearing the very sight of scrambled eggs. If you’re otherwise eating quite well and taking your daily supplements (including anti-oxidants), the occasional scrambled egg while you’re traveling or visiting friends or relatives certainly won’t kill you, and likely will be offset by the rest of what you’re doing. But if you’re a scrambled egg lover and eat your eggs cooked this way frequently, you might want to consider giving poached or sunny-side-up a try.

 What about eating raw eggs?

Did I just read your mind? Perhaps you’ve heard that you shouldn’t eat raw eggs. I believe the best way to answer this is to provide you with enough information for you to make the decision for yourself.

I for one often add a raw egg yolk to my daily dose of greens juice because the yolk is where I’m going to get the biggest bang for my health buck, especially since I suffer from low cholesterol and the yolk contains the highest levels of brain-feeding cholesterol (low cholesterol, in case you don’t already know, is perhaps more of a health threat than high because of the neurological, memory and depression issues low cholesterol can cause).

This is a subject I suggest you use your own discretion on but I think the following information might clear up some of your concerns and answer this question best.

As Dr. Mercola explains:

Raw eggs contain valuable nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin and bioflavonoids (same benefits as I mentioned in the last paragraph plus other plusses such as protecting eye health/vision)

However, you should not consume raw egg whites without the yolks. Raw egg whites contain avidin, which can bind to biotin. If you cook the egg white the avidin is not an issue.  However if you consume them with raw egg yolk (whole egg) there is more than enough biotin in the yolk to compensate for the avidin binding. 

There is a potential problem with using the entire raw egg if you are pregnant. Biotin deficiency is a common concern in pregnancy and it is possible that consuming whole raw eggs would make it worse. If you are pregnant you have two options. The first is to actually measure for a biotin deficiency. This is best done through urinary excretion of 3-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-HIA), which increases as a result of the decreased activity of the biotin-dependent enzyme methylcrotonyl-CoA carboxylase. 

Alternatively, you could take a biotin supplement, or consume only the yolk raw (and cook the whites). 

If you choose not to eat your eggs raw, cooking them soft-boiled would be the next best option.

The topic of high and low cholesterol certainly doesn’t end here. If anything, it’s just the beginning. My goal in this article is to get you thinking differently about cholesterol and the food you eat versus the information you’re being fed.

If you’re hungry for more cholesterol case-cracking information check out these great books and resources:

Okay, now let’s all get out there and get crack’n on what it takes to have a long life filled with health and vitality!