When it comes to making paleo cookies, eggs are key. Eggs have long been demonized by those living in fear of coronary heart disease and its alleged culprits such as cholesterol and saturated fat. But for all of the hype and media coverage, the conclusions published and propagated are far from compelling. Below are some of the most pervasive fears and recent claims pertaining to our beloved Paleo staple.
Bro, this one is easy to debunk because it’s just straight-up false. Egg whites only have half of the egg’s protein. The kicker is that the yolk crushes the white when it comes to nutrition, and has more Vitamin A, B12, D, Calcium, Folate, and Omega-3 fats. Plus, yolks are delicious. They can be used to create emulsions like mayonnaise and hollandaise sauce (even Paleo versions), and it contains all of the egg’s fat. Fact: you should eat the whole egg, fatty yolk and all. Which brings me to my next point.
Dietary cholesterol has been claimed to increase the body’s total cholesterol, which in turn is seen as a red-flag indicator of imminent and impending death by heart attack. It makes a lot of sense: eat fat and cholesterol, and you will get fat and have higher cholesterol. But the truth is slightly different. See, while LDL cholesterol is indeed a heart disease risk, the real details to look out for are the number of those LDL particles and their size, not the total amount of cholesterol. It’s possible to have more cholesterol in fewer, bigger particles. Fewer is better, and larger is better. Somewhat counterintuitively, eating eggs can increase the proportion of big, cholesterol-storing LDL particles to their dangerous small brethren. Fact: eggs don’t increase your risk of heart disease.
This one was newer and a little more intricate. The basics: The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that concluded increased dietary choline intake increased risk for coronary heart disease. Here’s the confusing part: fatty fish are high in choline. Increased fatty fish consumption has been shown in all types of studies to reduce heart disease. The conclusions of the study are weak and require further investigation at best, but they do show us something very important about choosing Paleo or any other diet. Fact: eggs don’t cause heart disease, and it’s a stretch for any study to argue that they even contribute to risk factors.
No matter what topic, you’ll be able to find at least one study that supports your claim. The truth is unearthed after evaluating data and conclusions from both sides. Conclusions gleaned from peer-reviewed studies are sometimes unfounded, or backed by pharmaceuticals with an investment riding on the outcome. Sometimes, though, people just want you to enjoy something as delicious as the humble egg and know you’re doing it for your health as well. Where do eggs fit into your daily diet? Will you use them to make Paleo brownies? Have they been forbidden because of these myths, or do you just not like them (which I found hard to believe until I met an egg-averse Bolivian)? What’s your favorite way to cook them? Scrambled or fried?