A recent question in The New York Times Well blog created some confusion by asking how many eggs you can (or should) eat. The answer was not eggs-actly correct.
Since one egg has the same amount of cholesterol as a Big Mac, it is unnecessary—even detrimental to your health—to consume eggs or egg products. One egg has more cholesterol than your body needs. In fact, any added dietary cholesterol is unnecessary because our bodies already produce more than the amount we require. An excess of cholesterol leads to heart disease, so it’s no surprise that a 2010 study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found that those who consume the most eggs have a 19 percent increased risk for cardiovascular problems.
What The New York Times blog fails to explain is that eating an occasional egg might not increase health risks for people already eating a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet—just as smoking an occasional cigar might not increase health risks for people already smoking cigarettes. But if people are already eating a healthful diet without any added dietary cholesterol, eggs can contribute to many problems in addition to heart disease. Recent studies in Atherosclerosis and the International Journal of Cancer show that egg consumption can also cause diabetes and even cancer.
The misperception surrounding the necessity of eggs has even spread to the courtroom. Unilever is suing Hampton Creek Foods for using the term “mayo” in relation to its egg-free Just Mayo condiment. The argument is that “mayonnaise” is defined as an egg-based product. However, removing the egg from mayonnaise also removes the cholesterol, a win-win. The lawsuit seems to be backfiring for Unilever by helping people realize that there are more healthful alternatives to Hellmann’s mayonnaise.
No matter what you call it, egg-free is the better option.
For more information about egg consumption and health, read and share our fact sheet: http://www.pcrm.org/pdfs/health/Nutrition-Fact-Sheets/Eggs-fact-sheet.pdf
As a doctor, I focus on removing meat and dairy products from the diet for disease prevention, but many folks choose to eschew meat to reduce their carbon footprint. Just as we can no longer ignore food’s impact on our own health, we can’t ignore food’s role in climate change either.
For your eco-conscious friends who still chow down on cheeseburgers, there’s a new documentary emphasizing the meat industry’s global environmental impact. Cowspiracy slams home the fact that meat production is the number-one source of greenhouse gases and deforestation. And while parts of the United States are facing a drought, it takes 660 gallons of water to produce a single hamburger.
Al Gore, Bill Gates, and James Cameron have all been decidedly outspoken about how meat production and consumption affect both health and the environment. Research shows that animal products are bad for humans—leading to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Moving meat products off your plate—for whatever reason— will have a lasting impact on your own health and the environment.
November is both Native American Heritage Month and National Diabetes Month. Though the two may seem unrelated, it’s possible—even beneficial—to acknowledge both at the same time.
A traditional Native American diet incorporates corn, beans, squash, fruits, and grains—all foods that can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, Native American communities have moved away from these plant foods toward the standard American diet full of meat and dairy products, which increase the risk of diabetes.
Chefs Lois Ellen Frank and Walter Whitewater making Indian No-Fry Bread.
For all Americans—no matter which race—diabetes statistics are far too high. Forty percent will have diabetes in his or her lifetime. Ten percent of Americans overall currently have diabetes. But for Native Americans in particular, the rate rises to 16 percent.
To cut diabetes rates, we need to cut out high-risk foods. Dairy products are the main source of saturated fat and cholesterol in the American diet, and diets high in fat can increase insulin resistance and increase the risk of heart disease. Meat-eating is also considered a risk factor for diabetes. A study out of Taiwan shows that women and men who avoid meat entirely reduce their diabetes risk by 70 and 45 percent respectively. The Physicians Committee’s own research has found that a low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and heart health in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The alarming diabetes statistics for Native Americans prompted us to visit the Navajo Nation and work with community leaders to implement nutrition programs to help Native Americans manage and reverse their diabetes. The Physicians Committee recently released Food for Life in Indian Country, a documentary detailing the progress and successes from our program. The film shows that a return to traditional plant-based meals can help Native American communities reverse their diabetes and experience a boost in overall health.
We brought in Native American chef Lois Ellen Frank to create recipes that incorporated cultural tradition alongside disease-fighting ingredients. The Food for Life in Indian Country booklet has several recipes for every course, along with a sample daily menu. This month, try the Posole Harvest Stew or the Indian No-Fry Bread. Spread good health—and promote diabetes awareness and Native American heritage—by bringing traditional Native American recipes to your next potluck and sharing our booklet with friends and family.
For more information, visit PCRM.org/Diabetes.