Are eggs healthy? The true breakfast table heroes

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A perfectly cooked boiled egg is a culinary work of art.

You can keep the five star, Michelin chef prepared fripperies that food critics salivate over.

No piquant prawn and chorizo tower with saffron glaze and pea shoot foam can hold a candle to what I have before me right now.

There they sit, two eggs with soft but set whites, bright golden yolks glistening and runny… and a piece of toasted bread with butter, cut into soldiers ready for action.

I know that by dipping the bread into the egg I run the risk of allowing some of that delicious and precious perfection to overrun the shell and drip down the side.

But I am skilled in the art, and have many years of experience on my side!

Admit it, your mouth is watering.

Well, so is mine and I’m going to enjoy my breakfast before I continue with today’s letter.

Dear reader thank you for opening The Good Life Letter newsletter, your continued reading is important to us and our hedonistic writer will be with you as soon as he has wiped the egg yolk from his chin and broken the bottom of the shells to stop the witches going to sea in them…’

Ah, replete and smiling man returns to keyboard; but have I just increased my risk of developing diabetes? And what about the cholesterol levels too?

There has been so much conjecture about how healthy eggs are over the years that you could be forgiven for any opinion you have on the matter.

But the truth is that eggs are good for you… plain and simple.

Or maybe not quite so plain…for instance…

…The University of Eastern Finland (who knew that such a place even existed!) examined the eating habits of nearly 2,500 men and decided that those who ate four eggs a week had a 37% lower risk of developing metabolic disease than those who ate only one egg.

A very precise bit of information – but I’m not sure it is particularly helpful.

Don’t get me wrong I am delighted that eggs are getting a good press, they deserve it and more importantly I like them and welcome the excuse to eat more, but a 37% reduction in risk!

It’s not spectacularly impressive is it?

Bad news travels faster

The alternative to a shaky bit of good news is a misguided bit of bad news – and eggs were the victims of this too a few years ago.

Eating egg yolks is as bad as smoking in speeding up coronary heart disease’ was the headline in the Daily Mail in August 2012, and it was a story which spread like wildfire.

This piece of badly reported, poor quality research was responsible for eggs disappearing from breakfast tables throughout the land.

Canadian researchers had looked at the eating and smoking habits of 1,200 patients at a cardiac clinic and deduced that a combination of smoking and eating eggs was related to fatty build ups in neck arteries.

Eager journalists who like nothing better than rocking people back in their breakfast chairs leapt upon the story, but once again failed to check out anything beyond the headline.

If they had taken the trouble to look over the way the scientists had conducted their research they would have found a few failings in the approach taken.

The problem was that the research team hadn’t taken into account one or two other important factors:

  • There was a lack of accuracy of the participants’ recollections of their egg yolk consumption, so how could the accuracy of the data be verified?
  • They failed to ask detailed information on how the eggs were cooked.
  • The scientists ignored the fact that there may have been additional risk factors contributing to artery ‘clogging’, not assessed by the study, such as lack of exercise or alcohol consumption.
  • While it is reasonable to assume that fatty build-up in the neck arteries can increase the risk of heart disease, it is uncertain exactly what the increased level of risk would be (perhaps 37%?)

But it didn’t stop the story running, and it is one that keeps getting referred to periodically when a lazy journalist needs some padding for another health scare story.

A quick Google later and the original story is still there on the newspapers’ website despite the research and the article being debunked within weeks of its publication.

The various food agencies should be able to enforce the removal of plainly wrong information like this… but I guess that would be an affront to the freedom of the press!

Eggs to the fore once again

Leaving aside the times when the press get it all wrong, they do occasionally make up for it.

And us egg lovers need to thank them for carrying the findings of another research team, working in the seemingly popular world of eggs!

A group from Pardue University in the US (nope me neither!) found that by adding an egg to a salad our bodies take up nine times more nutrients from the greenery than it would without.

This makes the honest hard-boiled egg a turbo charger for the summer lunchtime favourite, and gives me yet another reason to indulge my passion for them.

Can you imagine how brilliantly nutritious my plate of grated carrots, home grown lettuce leaves, pickled beetroot, baby spinach leaves and a couple of eggs is going to be… especially when I add my patent honey and black pepper dressing.

It will be a glorious summer to look forward to after all.

But once again a quick look into the detail of the research reveals all is not quite what it seems.

I discovered that the trial only involved 16 volunteers… once again a great story shot down because the research numbers just aren’t big enough to be statistically reliable.

Still, none of this will stop me enjoying one of my favourite things: Let’s hear it for the humble, free-range and fresh as you like egg.

And if you were in any doubt about the question – are eggs healthy…. the answer is YES!

Let’s all hope for a nice dry and sunny weekend… I predict a 37% improvement in temperature!