Friday, July 6, 2012

Some Egg (Dietary) Facts

Some folks have been a bit surprised that we (as a family) go through 3 to 4 dozen eggs a week. Maybe the surprise is just from the large consumption of a single item, or maybe it is because eggs have gotten a bad wrap, or maybe both. To the former, I just really like eggs. Eggs are tasty and highly portable and a breeze to cook when you are in a hurry. They are also very nutritious! Some weeks I consume a lot less just because I want to try something new, but generally this is the norm.

"What?", you say. Aren't they high in fat and cholesterol .. sure .. but read on.

So as to the cholesterol issue, sure eggs contain a decent amount of cholesterol. However cholesterol is an important nutrient in your body. It is a precursor to various hormones (especially sex hormones) as well as being vital to cellular repair. It is so important that every cell in your body has the ability to produce it by itself. Your body will also vary the amount of cholesterol it produces based the amount of dietary (i.e. exogenous) cholesterol you consume!

Other than a specific portion of the population (termed "hyper responders") most folks will NOT see an increase in serum cholesterol levels in the body based on increased intake of dietary cholesterol. While I do not have exact numbers, I would assume a decent amount of those hyper responders would be those with Familial Hypercholesterolemia, which is a genetic disorder whereby the LDL receptors in the liver do not recycle cholesterol properly (or at all). That is a huge simplification of the condition, but sufficient for my point.

So, to put it simply, I don't view the cholesterol levels in eggs to be even relevant for most folks eating a  healthy diet.

Peter Attia has a great series on cholesterol over on this website at if you are interested in learning more.

Consumption of saturated fat is frequently blamed as being a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However a 2010 meta-analysis of 21 epidemiological studies that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that "there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD. More data are needed to elucidate whether CVD risks are likely to be influenced by the specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat". There are hypothesis' that overconsumption of carbohydrate may be to blame since excess glucose will be converted to palmatic acid (the body's storage form of saturated fat) when your body's glycogen levels are already full, but I have not been able to find a study that supports this. That is not to say that it does not exist, only that my Google Fu is lacking in that area :)

Saturated fat is also routinely blamed for increasing cholesterol levels. While this is true, saturated fat tends to increase both HDL and Total Cholesterol and generally results in a more favourable TC:HDL ratio, which is a much better predictor of CVD than TC alone.

If you do some digging around PubMed you will likely find that a lot of the current CVD risk research is focusing on LDL particle size and oxidative stress. Saturated fat is actually the least prone to oxidation, followed by mono-unsaturated and then polyunsaturated. When you consume fat some of it is used for fuel by your body and some of it is incorporated into your cells (as well as other uses). Consumption of fat that is already oxidized, or that can easily become oxidized in your body, would increase the amount of oxidative stress on your body (thus depleting anti-oxidant levels such as glutathione which are needed to deal with the free radicals). I will let you draw your own conclusion here but the conclusion of many in the Paleo realm is that saturated (from healthy fat sources like coconut and animals that were responsibly raised) is an ideal source of fat for this reason and many others. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from good sources are healthy too (polyunsaturated fats contain DHA and EPA for one, which are essential fatty acids that we need to consume) but one should not shun saturated fat!

Now that I've dispensed with some common objections to egg consumption, let us look at why you should be eating eggs (other than the fact they are delicious)! The image below shows a list of common nutrients found in eggs, split into white and yolk. I have left the table split since I do not want folks to think they can simply get all this from the white alone! Notably missing from the chart is choline. A 100g serving of egg yolk contains about 683mg of choline in the yolk and about 1.1mg in the white. A single egg generally contains about 250mg of choline which is about 25% of the daily recommended intake.

Bottom line: eggs are a nutritious and delicious part of a healthy diet!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Egg Update

Just a quick update for folks as it seems my little blog post has sparked a bit of local interest.

Levi Lawrence did an interview on Maritime Noon today which spawned a bit of a Facebook thread on the MN page. You can view it, as well as a link to an audio recording, here.

Levi also did an interview for CTV's Live At 5 that you can view tonight!

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Laura Brown of CBC NB this afternoon and that interview will likely play this evening on the CBC News either at 5:00 or 6:00 (or both, not entirely sure).

Thanks to everybody who retweeted, shared and posted on their Facebook pages and whatever else. Without you we would not have gotten this amount of attention. As of now we have over 500 page views on my blog post with more coming in every minute.

Huge thanks for your support of local, quality food!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hands Off My Eggs!

If you are a regular to Real Food Connections in Fredericton, or are a newsletter subscriber, you probably already know what they have temporarily suspended their direct-from-farm egg share program. The issue at hand is some "regulatory red tape"that has something to do with the fact that the eggs are not graded. I'm sure there is possibly more to it but I do not have full details yet.

Folks are probably vaguely familiar with egg grading (based on size) but there is probably more to it than you thought. You can read about it here but in essence it is an assurance of quality regulated by the federal gov't.

Now, I for one have thoroughly enjoyed this program since it began a few months back. I like knowing where my eggs come from and how the chickens are fed and watered. I like knowing that they aren't crammed into 1/2 sqft cages where they lay eggs onto conveyor belts. Most of all I like cracking open a farm fresh egg and seeing a nice dark orange yolk that tells me the chicken ate a nutrient rich diet appropriate for chicken (for the most part). The two farms the eggs were sourced from probably weren't a perfect "Paleo" view of what free range eggs were but they were MUCH better than what you get in the supermarket. With the loss of this program we've also lost the traceability back to the farm, which is unfortunate.

So, what do do now?

Well, for now I'm going to let Levi work his magic and hope that he finds a way to restore this really great program.

However, if it should come to it, I am prepared to stand up as a consumer and voice my opinion. We put up with far too much gov't control over our food supply "for our own good" and it is my opinion that we may need to take back some of that control. The fact that it is so HARD for me to buy fresh eggs or other products (folks who know me will know what other products I am referring to, leaving them out here for clarity's sake) from a local farmer THROUGH a great program like the one Levi offers is a complete travesty .. especially when you can buy so much high-fructose corn syrup laden, BPA packaged, processed food crap on just about any corner.

I will endeavour to keep you all informed on the situation as details come forth. However I ask that you share this post and visit the RFC Facebook page and let them know that you support them. If it comes to it, I'd appreciate your support in standing up and letting our elected officials know that we will not put up with interference with the food we choose to eat. It is our choice, and we are all big enough boys and girls to make that decision for ourselves.

 Thank You All!