Wake Up, Philippines!

The final word on eggs – good for you or not?

Posted in Health, Nutrition by Erineus on March 12, 2009
By Anna Unson-Price
March 9, 2009, 5:30pm
Illustration by Eugene Cubillo
Illustration by Eugene Cubillo

When we were growing up, we ate eggs, usually for breakfast, because they tasted good, contained protein and other nutrients and could be prepared in a variety of fun ways.  Then in the 90s came the dire news that our beloved eggs contained large amounts of cholesterol which increased the cholesterol levels in the blood.

Although we missed them, we started eating less eggs, limiting our consumption to the acceptable three per week.  If we wanted the low-fat, low-calorie protein from eggs, we ate only egg whites, which did taste good but were nowhere near as delicous as eggs with good old-fashioned yolk.  Egg substitutes, containing mainly egg whites, became popular for low-cholesterol diets as they contained zero cholesterol compared to regular yolks which pack  250mg of cholesterol.

After several years of this, information started popping up about how the cholesterol in eggs apparently wasn’t quite the death sentence they thought it was and eggs have regained their rightful place at the table.  How did the change of heart come about?

Although it’s still true that eggs and particularly yolks, are rich in cholesterol, there are two bits of information that make this not such a bad thing.  One is that two-thirds of the fat found in eggs is the healthy, unsaturated kind of fat.  The other is that there are no trans-fatty acids in eggs.  Trans fatty acids are bad for your heart because they increase total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol (bad) levels and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

And eggs have even more benefits!  The fat that the egg does contain is a good source of vitamin A, E and K.  Eggs yolks are also one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which is the wonder vitamin people are beginning to have a lot to say about.  Other hard to get nutrients are also found in eggs – iron, folate and vitamin B12.  The protein in egg white is considered an ideal protein, containing all the amino acids in the right amounts that your body needs.

Another important nutrient found in egg is choline.  The established recommended intake for choline is 550mg for men, 425mg for women and 450mg for pregnant women.  One large egg contains 125mg of choline.  A study in 2008 at the University of North Carolina suggests that women who consumed more choline had a reduced risk of breast cancer.  Three thousand women were studied and it was concluded that those who had the highest intake of choline had a 24 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.  Other studies have shown the same findings.

However, there are cautions that should be considered.   Researchers conclude that while egg consumption in middle-aged men of up to 6 eggs a week is not associated with risk, consumption of seven or more is assocated with a 23 percent greater risk of death.  Men who already had diabetes died sooner if they ate any eggs at all.  Researchers suggest further study is needed, because the men in these studies who ate the most eggs were also older, fatter and were more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and less likely to exercise.  Further studies will be undertaken, but in the meantime, caution is urged for middle-aged men.

Remember though, that it’s not only the egg that you eat that’s important.  It’s how it’s cooked and what you eat it with!  An egg fried in oil or butter with garlic fried rice and sausages is multiplying the calories, fat, and cholesterol in the egg by a whopping amount!  There exists too large a variety of ways to prepare eggs to have it the same, artery-clogging way forever.

(Write the author at wellbeing@mb.com.ph)

Weight loss and high protein diet

Posted in Diet, Nutrition by Erineus on February 21, 2009

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Obesity often goes hand in hand with the metabolic syndrome — a cluster of five factors that include high blood pressure, a large waist circumference, elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, and reduced blood levels of HDL cholesterol.

Weight reduction is one of the first lines of defense in treating the syndrome, and researchers from the University of Ulm, Germany, have found that increased amounts of protein in the diet lead to greater improvement in metabolic syndrome risk factors when compared to a standard level of protein.

The study, presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society in Phoenix, enrolled 110 overweight subjects with the metabolic syndrome who were randomly divided into two groups and were followed for one year.

For the first three months — the weight loss phase — those in the high protein group were instructed to follow a diet that supplied about twice the protein obtained from a typical diet; they also replaced two meals a day with Herbalife’s European Formula 1, a meal replacement shake. The other group was instructed to eat a standard amount of protein from an all-food diet.

For the remaining nine months of the study — the weight maintenance phase — everyone used one meal replacement shake a day as part of their meal plan, and both groups maintained the level of protein intake in the diet they had consumed during the previous three months.

Everyone lost weight after a year, but the high protein group lost more weight (nearly 25 pounds, compared with about 14 pounds for the standard protein group) and more body fat, and preserved lean body mass. More significant, however, was the finding that at the end of the study, 64 percent of those in the high protein group no longer met the criteria for the metabolic syndrome, compared with 41percent who consumed the standard amount of protein.

“We knew that weight loss would improve risk factors for the metabolic syndrome,” said Marion Flechtner-Mors, PhD, one of the researchers on the study and head of the Obesity Research Group at the University of Ulm, Germany, “but we found that more subjects showed improvement in these risk factors when we increased the protein in the diet.”

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