The Physicians Committee

The Incredibly Inedible Egg

  November 21, 2014    

incredible inedible egg

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:


I thought Dr. Barnard was a lot smarter than this. Too much of most things are bad for you.
Most of the studies I've seen conclude that eggs are fine — and may even improve your health, as they contain nutrients difficult to find in other foods. More importantly, a report by Ying Rong of Huazhong University of Science and Technology and her colleagues published in the British Journal of Medicine in January, reviewed 17 different egg studies.

The study concluded, "Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. The increased risk of coronary heart disease among diabetic patients and reduced risk of hemorrhagic stroke associated with higher egg consumption in subgroup analyses warrant further studies."

The bottom line: Your nutritional needs and food choices should be personalized. You should enjoy food and eating, as it is one of the basic pleasures in life!

Ron: PCRM's fact sheet on eggs, on which this article is based, cites 15 peer-reviewed studies in medical and scientific journals to support the entirely correct and accurate statements Dr. Barnard is making.

You apparently have not even looked at ANY of those 15 studies. Instead you cite ONE study that tells you what you want to hear, and you offer some vague content-free bumper sticker slogans about "enjoying food", and accuse Dr. Barnard of not being "smart".

If you like eggs, well then, eat all the eggs you like. But don't fool yourself. And don't think you are fooling any readers of this blog.

Unfortunately, there are studies on both sides of the coin that validate both sides of thinking. The body does need cholesterol for the production of cells. Eat right (your choice of foods), exercise, drink water, and get sleep. I go for a mostly plant-based diet, with some chicken, fish, or eggs; however, that is me and that is what works for me...

YIKES ... guess those folks that enjoy "pleasures" from SMOKING & getting high on NARCOTICS should be left alone to engage in other basic pleasures in life.

There is EVIDENCE based RESEARCH done on this by several sources...

Guess you're into consuming high levels of SALT & animal grease too!

Fact is, the sheeple of the world will believe whatever serves them best. Sad but true. And then there are those of us who can rationalize and see past all the hype and the oft copied and repeated propaganda, and learn the actual science behind the claims. I care so it is frustrating...but what can you do? I have a diabetic husband who has already lost a leg and will NOT change his diet one iota and still smokes! Wait, did I say EX husband? I love him but could not live with him!

Dude, quit stating big corporate Egg studies. Eggs are unhealthy for humans. Not to mention torturing and killing animals is not just a matter pleasures in life, as you put it. You can eat plenty of pleasurable foods in the fruit and vegetable kingdom. No need to harm animals.

Thank you.

Dude, quit stating big corporate Egg studies. Eggs are unhealthy for humans. Not to mention torturing and killing animals is not just a matter of pleasures in life, as you put it. You can eat plenty of pleasurable foods in the fruit and vegetable kingdom. No need to harm animals.

Great blog! That whole Hellmann's lawsuit is insane. I followed the link and read about how Hellmann's even had non-egg mayo that was referred to as "mayonnaise." So interesting.

It's a shame that eggs are in so many food products when there are a number of delicious(cholesterol-free) egg substitutions out there!

What are your suggestions for substitutions? Especially for eggs as an ingredient in cooking and baking - thanks for any info.

Joanne...I use unsweetened organic applesauce instead of eggs (in baking) often. It works great...One cup of applesauce for one cup of eggs. Same to replace cooking oil in recipes! The applesauce has hardly any taste and works to hold things together. You may also want to check into Xanthan Gum (+ a bit if water) ...Check a vegan website for how much equals one I am not sure, as I use the applesauce more often!

Good luck! You will not miss the eggs!

Do you know that if one person eats no animal products for one year, about 95 animals do not have to die?

Something to think about! :)

P.S. And please be sure to use organic applesauce...Apples that not organic have waaaaaaay to much in the way of insecticides on them! ;)

As a substitute for each egg used in baking traditional recipes, I use either a tablespoon of chia seeds mixed with two tablespoons of water OR a tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with two tablespoons of water. Both mixtures bind the ingredients in a recipe the way an egg does. Chia seeds are better for some recipes, ground flax seeds are better for others.

There are lots of good substitutions. Some people use applesauce, others use bananas or mashed prunes. Another good substitute is ground flax seed. We've used them all as a replacement for eggs in baking with good results. For some recipes you can just leave out the eggs and not notice the difference. You can get a lot of ideas for substitutes by searching "vegan egg substitute" with Google.

There are some things you can substitute for eggs in cooking and baking, depending on what you're cooking. I bake a delicious vegan banana bread and use soy milk or almond milk in place of eggs. You can also use ground flax seeds mixed with a little water for a great thickener. There is also an egg replacer product on the market - the one I use is a powder that you mix with warm water. Instructions on the box tell you how much to use and what to do with it in many recipes . Do a little research and I'm sure you'll find what you need. Eggs are not a requirement for baking or cooking, except, I suppose, for dishes that are defined by them.

We use ground flax seeds (golden) to replace eggs.

Is there any difference if you use egg whites only?

Egg whites contain most of the animal proteins in an egg. Those proteins are like other animal proteins in that they cause inflammation, acidosis, and a host of problems just as eating meat does. And there's the question of contaminants like growth enzymes, antibiotics, and various others that are used in chicken feed. You might consider substitutes: search for "vegan tofu scramble" with Google to get some ideas. (Avoid all the oil, use just a few drops or better, use non-stick methods.)

Egg whites do carry the cholesterol only the yolk does.

Wow -- I am surprised by how many people apparently following this blog, disagree with PCRM's perspective (and why isn't PCRM clarifying the facts?) So I picked one comment out -- from "Confidence Kitchen" to investigate. She cites the Hunt 2 Study, which I found here:

The first thing that jumped out at me, (but by no means the only thing) was that with regards to cholesterol, they only compared two groups -- those with total cholesterol above 215 to those with total below 215. Based upon an overwhelming amount of other research, it is no surprise that picking 215 as the cut-off number to compare yielded no difference. 215 is already such a high cholesterol -- that even 20 points below it is still increased CVD risk. 215 is clearly WAY TOO HIGH for a meaningful cut-off. This study means absolutely nothing, and anyone who cites it to support a view that serum cholesterol is not associated with CVD is either very misinformed or being disingenuous. Had they really wanted a genuine answer to this question, they would have used three groups -- below 150, 150 to 200 and above 200. But obviously that was not the intent of these researchers

I can't help but wonder who funded this study, and or what were the motivations/biases of those who chose the study design?

People will rationalize and justify what they eat and not research the facts. I bought non dairy mayo at Target and it is delicious. There are so many alternitives . I even use Tofu to make my scramble"eggs"and it's better than eggs.Do the homework..I agree with Dr. Barnard.

I have been a vegetarian for almost 30 years. And a PETA member. Nevertheless, I know that it is not possible to keep up strict eating limits unless one has comfortable income, small family, and enough time to shop according to best nutrition choices. Moreover, nutritional habits of a clearly healthy individuals' native families and communities play also significant roles. Therefore, rather than condemning an egg for breakfast I would advise a more thorough explanation of nutritional difference between a genuinely free-range, naturally foraging chickens and indoor raised, or caged ones who lack natural food and mobility, circulatory health and body oxygenation. And, an explanation of the metabolic needs of mostly sedentary and mostly physically working individuals.

That's the first rational reply I've read

A correction to my previous comment:
As I don't have research data, in my comment I could have state only that, in my opinion, the indoor raised, or, caged chickens may lack natural food and enough physical activity that is essential for circulatory health and body oxygenation.


False health fraud information has been detected on this web page. The incorrect information is contained in the "COMMENT" by the individual identified as "RON". This is currently showing as Comment number 1 in the list underneath the article. The actual posted article itself, by Dr. Neal Barnard, has been checked and was found verified as scientifically correct. The false information has been traced to the 3rd party commenter identified above as "RON".

The user "RON" has been found citing studies that were funded by the Egg, Meat and Dairy industries. These are Lobbyist organizations whose main purpose is to promote the further sales of animal products, namely eggs. Thus, these entities have a Financial interest in promoting that eggs "are fine--and even improve your health"(found to be scientifically false). The "study" that commenter "RON" has cited is a Meta-Analysis. It's the same meta-analysis cited and quoted in the New York Times "Ask-Well" blog. A meta-analysis is a type of study that is essentially "a study of other studies". NO subjects were actually examined by the researchers in that study itself. What they did is analyze and summarize OTHER studies out there. However, among these supposed "studies" are articles funded by the National Egg Board. In other words, the information supposedly cited by "RON" is un-scientific, tainted, and based on fraud.

This "meta-analysis" by Ying Rong of Huangzeng University of Science and Technology contains material paid for by the National Egg Board.


Ying Rong has no medical certification. Ying Rong is merely a doctoral student. This "study" is done by a student. In the People's Republic of China. This person is not Board Certified, and is not even a physician or a medical doctor (MD). (Note: We checked on "Dr. Neal Barnard" as well. Dr. Barnard was in fact found to be an accredited medical doctor (MD license), clinical researcher, with papers published in academic peer-reviewed journals such as Lancet Oncology, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and was found to be Board Certified. In fact, Dr. Barnard was found to *be* a peer-reviewer for the NIDDK of the National Institute of Health.) Ying Rong is Not.

Ying Rong is from the "Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, Hubei Key Laboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 430030 Wuhan, People’s Republic of China" Egg consumption and CHD and stroke mortality: a prospective study of US adults. Public Health Nutr2011;14:261-70. by Scrafford CG, Tran NL, Barraj LM, Mink PJ.

First, look at the FULLTEXT of that "study". You will notice that its Lead Author, "CG Scrafford" is footnoted as being associated with: "Health Sciences Practice, Exponent Inc., 1150 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036, USA"

Notice this---> "Exponent Inc." Carolyn G Scrafford, Nga L Trana, Leila M Barraj and Pamela J Mink

ALL of these authors are employees of Exponent, and being paid to conduct "scientific studies" by the NATIONAL EGG BOARD and the EGG NUTRITION CENTER to promote that "eggs are fine --- and may even improve your health" just as user named "RON" attempted to type in user COMMENT #1.

The information attempting to be posted in the comment by the user "RON" above has been traced to tainted and contaminated "studies" promoted and funded by entities that gain financial benefit from the act of promoting the eating and sales of eggs. This is an identified unscientific conflict-of-interest.

The supposed "study published in the British Journal of Medicine in January, reviewing 17 different egg studies" and purporting that "Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke" is based on a foundation of studies which included material published by entities funded by the EGG BOARD.

The "Bottom Line" purported by the user Ron, and his comment can be thrown out. It is contaminated information that was found to be fraudulent.

This is the same study cited by the NEW YORK TIMES in the "blog" (not a source for scientific accuracy) named "Ask Well".

1. View the documentation yourself. To do this copy this study name-->"Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies" into Google and search on it. DONT JUST view the ABSTRACT---YOU MUST LOOKUP THE FULLTEXT version.

2. Then go to the "References" at the bottom of that BMJ study. Observe the citation of THIS STUDY among the ones referenced in the BMJ egg article:---> "Scrafford CG, Tran NL, Barraj LM, Mink PJ. Egg consumption and CHD and stroke mortality: a prospective study of US adults. Public Health Nutr2011;14:261-70."

3. Now note that Scrafford, Tran, Barraj, and Mink are all paid by "Exponent Inc".

4. Now copy "EXPONENT INC EGG NUTRITION BOARD" into GOOGLE and search on that text and watch what comes up: You will see multiple instances of the Egg Nutrition Center quoting "studies" by paid researchers from Exponent, Inc, and also Exponent, Inc. touting how they have done studies in collusion with the National Egg Board and Egg Nutrition Center.


Also find this study: "Balancing and communicating risks and benefits associated with egg consumption – a relative risk study"

You will find the same fraudulent paper authors: "Nga L. Tran", "Leila Barraj", "Pamela Mink" and also a new one "Donald J McNamara" writing a paper on how to "communicate" egg propaganda.

The authors are plainly shown as employed by EXPONENT INC. And right among the paper's authors is "Donald J. McNamara" employed by the "Egg Nutrition Center". These exponent authors are plainly shown in collusion with the Egg Nutrition Center whose main purpose is to generate pseudoscientific propaganda which can then be used to promote the selling of and ingestion of eggs.


-- 1. Ronald M. Krauss (Paid by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Monsanto, Merck, and more. This man is known as "Doctor Lard" and promotes saturated fat.)

-- 2. Patty Siri-Tarino. She is paid by the National Diary Council and was PhD student taught by and studying under Ronald M Krauss. Siri-Tarino just "published" a study purporting that saturated fat is ok again for you afterall!...This study was quoted in TIME MAGAZINE as the "Butter is good again article" and is the BASIS of thousands of reports saying saturated fat (found in eggs, meat, and dairy) is alright afterall. It was paid for by the National Dairy Council.

-- 3. Maria Luz Fernandez - This "author" is paid to do studies on eggs, milk, dairy, and meat by multiple lobbyist groups including the National Diary Council and Egg Boards.

THE MAIN ARTICLE(correct) written by the author identifying themselves as "Neal Barnard" was checked and found to be for the most part Accurate.

The New York Times AskWell blog, The contaminated BMJ egg "study", and the incorrect comment by the user known as"RON" in the comments promoting have been caught and found to be traced to health fraud.


Awesome research. Worth saving for future reference.

Wow! Thanks!

One may eat eggs without concern for elevated cholesterol levels. I know this to
be true, first hand. Although eggs are loaded with cholesterol - 175 to 275 mgs of
it depending on the size of the egg - they also contain a substance called lecithin
which is an emulsifier, rendering all that artery-clogging gunk harmless. As for
saturated fat, an egg contains no more of it than a tbsp of olive oil. I was skeptical
at first and decided to play the role of " guinea pig", eating eggs when ever I wanted
to, over a period of one year and found that my cholesterol level had declined a
few points - from 181mgs to 178mgs per dcl. I suggest that you skeptics out there
do as I did: eat an egg a day over a 30-day period - this won't kill you! - and you'll
see that eggs are harmless as to their cholesterol and sat. fat content.

let's replace my home eggs with refined sugar, corn sirup and full of antibiotics, killed with horror red meat!

I am 60 y old
I eat 4 eggs daily,
I do not have just heart decease, I don't have any!!!!
including normal cholesterol. Period.

It always amazes me how people are easy to get brainwashed... Eggs will kill you because of cholesterol, red meat will kill you because of fat, fish will kill you too because of mercury, bread will kill you because of gluten, fat will kill you because - well being fat..
Am I cow to go and feed on grass? Nope, sorry, did not notice that (which doesn't mean I have never been accused of being one:))). Listen to your body people, don't let the lobby brainwash you. I do listen to my body, meat does nothing to me, gluten and lactose do. Eggs do nothing to me, and my cholesterol level is just fine. But it's me, in your case it can be different, just listen to it in first place, not some st.... Internet talks and phoney doctors and experts. They are like lawyers - two people three opinions. ;)

egg yolk processing

Everything looks good but only when it is in limits like drinks they are generally good for person but if it is in limit. So eggs are good for protein but they also contain a large amount of cholesterol to so that can be dangerous just ensure your limits for food too.

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