Eggs! Are the benefits of eggs all that they are cracked up to be? They may be seemingly essential in our recipes, meals, and customs, but are eggs healthy? Eggs contribute high-quality protein, vitamins A, D, and B-12, but eggs are also a carton full of not-so-good news. This article surveys the impact of eggs and chickens on our overall health.
Remember? Five hundred million eggs were recalled recently. Why? Nasty little bugs were making people sick—bad sick—with salmonella’s symptoms and problems like:
- abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting
Complications from Salmonella
Some people may develop reactive arthritis (Reiter’s syndrome weeks or months later. This condition causes joint pain, eye irritation, and painful urination. According to John Hopkins, a small number of people may feel better after antibiotic treatment for salmonella but will continue to carry the organism and pass it through their feces to others through contaminated food or water.
Where does this noise about salmonella on our tired radar screens come from? Salmonella infection primarily results from contaminated animal products like eggs, poultry, and meat. But many foods can be agents of carrying these germs “second hand” because someone did not kill these little villain salmonella germs before spreading their invasive selves to knives, kitchen surfaces, factory and processing surfaces. These dangerous germs can go then to the bowels, bones, brain, and beyond to school children, families, and people in general.
The Modern Chicken Factory
Have you visited a modern chicken factory recently? You would find it a crash course in ecology. For sunshine? No! They have artificial lights most or all of the night. As shown by Wurtman of MIT, this policy ruins melatonin physiology. Darkness at night increases melatonin. Then without proper brakes of melatonin in the brain, the hypothalamus goes into overdrive for hormones. These extra hormones damage control of cellular growth so that chickens get into serious immune troubles. For air in chicken factories, being caged over manure piles is worse than smog because it stinks. Ammonia is one of the airborne problems.
And for food? The hens get the cheapest mix of meat scraps, fats, cheap protein, carbohydrates, animal wastes, and chicken by-products. For exercise, they sit 24/7in tiny, wire dungeon-like cages, lay eggs, and occasionally squawk at fellow prisoners. All this menagerie of greed, stupidity, and damaging ecology and biology makes drugs necessary in the modern chicken factory. Then this high volume of drug use promotes resistant strains of more and more germs for the entire biologic community, including people. If humans were forced to live like chickens, they would get more than salmonella problems. So do chickens; they get cancer. Where? Brains, nerves, bones, ovaries, lymphatic system, you name it.
Chicken eggs contaminated with drug residues may lead to several pathological issues and health hazards, making it a significant threat to public health.1
Exposure of bacteria to low doses of antibiotics can cause bacteria to adapt, becoming more resistant and very virulent. Besides antibiotic resistance, accumulated exposure to antibiotic residue in chicken and eggs contributes to skin allergies, damaged liver, bone marrow abnormalities, autoimmunity, and cancer!2 3
Egg Consumption and Heart Disease
Did you know that 60% of an egg’s calorie comes from fat and that the fat in eggs is mainly saturated? That one average size egg has almost 200 mg of cholesterol. That is double the amount in a Big Mac! One study found that eating one egg per day significantly increased the risk of dying from heart disease.4 Higher blood cholesterol levels and higher intakes of dietary cholesterol were also associated with an elevated risk of death from heart disease.
A study showed that eating one egg daily increased the myocardial infarction rate and doubled the risk of heart attack if the individual has diabetes.5 The risk of heart failure is increased by the use of more than seven eggs per week.6Another study revealed that consuming just one-half egg a day increases one’s risk for cardiovascular disease by 6% and the risk of mortality by 8%.7
Not all cholesterol is equal. The type called oxidized cholesterol is particularly harmful. This fatty substance is especially damaging to the lining of blood vessel walls, leading to hardening of the arteries and, ultimately heart attacks and strokes. Studies have shown that oxidized cholesterol can kill human endothelial cells in eight hours and promote inflammation inside the arteries! Oxidized cholesterol is frequently found in pudding, pancakes, and other baked-good mixes.
Eggs feed the unfriendly bacteria in the gut so that they make TMAO (trimethylamine oxide). Studies show the higher the TMAO, the greater risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack and stroke. Interesting. When the egg and beef industries funded a joint study that showed TMAO levels were lowest after eating the non-egg and non-beef control food: fruit.8
Eggs also lack some valuable components. For example, eggs are virtually void of fiber, which benefits our health, digestion, bowel regularity, weight control, and overall health. Fiber also has been shown to play a significant and protective role against several degenerative diseases and cancer.
Conversely, chicken is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, such as colon and fatal prostate cancer. High cholesterol levels are associated with a higher incidence of lung and ovarian cancer—and eggs, containing about 200 mg apiece, which is the total daily-recommended limit for dietary cholesterol intake, could sneak our body cholesterol levels up.
A metanalysis showed that egg consumption was associated with increased breast cancer risk among the European, Asian, and postmenopausal populations and those who consumed between 2 to 5 eggs a week. In one study, men who consumed two and a half or more eggs per week—that’s just like one egg every three days—”had an 81% increased risk of lethal prostate cancer.”9
Eggs have a considerable amount of protein relative to their calories. High protein intake, especially high-quality proteins, increases the production of insulin-like growth factor -1, which promotes tissue growth and tumor progression.10 11
Chlorine used to wash eggs before commercial sale may enter eggs through the pores in the shells and interact with eggs’ organic substances, converting to potentially carcinogenic organochlorines. Organochlorines disrupt estrogen-related pathways and can contribute to gynecological cancers, particularly breast cancer.
I Don’t Eat that Many Eggs!
We may not think we eat more than an egg a day, but considering all the foods they are commonly found in, our intake may be more than we realize. Conventional mayonnaise, ice cream, cookies, cakes, muffins, bread, quiches, omelets, egg salads, pancakes, French toast, and of course, egg sandwich spread, and fried and boiled eggs, can easily contribute more than an egg per day to our diet.
Furthermore, eggs are a common food allergy, which can be especially bad news for asthmatics and individuals who suffer from additional allergies.
Although they contain protein and some vitamins and minerals, eggs are deficient in arginine, an amino acid critical for healthy blood vessels. Specifically, arginine is needed for nitric oxide production. This compound relaxes blood vessel walls in the brain, heart, and kidneys—which is so essential for healthy blood pressure management. When available, many other foods, including nuts, seeds, and grains, can supply protein and other nutrients that are nutritionally superior to that found in eggs and other animal products.
We need something better than animal products for A-grade nutrition. In the modern world, better and cleaner protein sources are readily available. Transportation has paved the way for the international distribution of produce and food. Tofu (organic, non-GMO), nuts, olives, soy, and various excellent animal-free alternatives are widely available. There have never been so many healthful recipe books available. So as the scales may tip in favor of leaving off eggs, what are the cook’s alternatives? Here are your many options for egg-free cooking in this blog Something Better than Eggs!
- Owusu-Doubreh, B. Antibiotic residues in poultry eggs and its implications on public health: A review. Scientific American. Volume 19, March 2023, e01456
- Benedict Antibiotic residues in poultry eggs and its implications on public health: A review. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2468227622003611
- Djousse, L., Egg consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in
Men and Women. Diabetes Care, 32: 295 – 300, 2009.
- Djousse, L., Egg consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men and Women. Diabetes Care, 32: 295 – 300, 2009.
- Zhuang P, Wu F, Mao L, et al. Egg and cholesterol consumption and mortality from cardiovascular and different causes in the United States: A population-based cohort study. PLoS Med. 2021;18:e1003508-e1003531. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003508.
- Richman EL. Egg, red meat, and poultry intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the prostate-specific antigen-era: incidence and survival. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Dec;4(12):2110-21. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0354.
- Giovannucci, E. (2003) Nutritional predictors of insulin-like growth factor I and their relationships to cancer in men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 12, 84–89.
- Giovannucci, E (1999) Insulin-like growth factor-I and binding protein-3 and risk of cancer. Horm Res 51, Suppl. 3, 34–41.G