The mass media all-over the world being excited by some studies (sponsored by egg and dairy industry) have been encouraging people to consume eggs and dairy products without fear of developing high cholesterol levels and experiencing heart attack or stroke. So, let us try to find out whether they are right.
In order to answer the question let me use a quote written by Dr. Jay Kenney – a Nutrition Research Specialist at the Pritikin Longevity Center:
“The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee did indeed report that ‘available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.’ But first and foremost, it’s important to ask, who is funding the research? Who is providing the evidence? The studies that have asserted that dietary cholesterol does not raise blood cholesterol have been largely funded by the egg industry! (Egg yolks are a very rich source of dietary cholesterol). Scientists affiliated with the egg industry have unfortunately become adept at designing studies that minimize the impact of dietary cholesterol on total and LDL cholesterol levels. These scientists select subjects known to be less responsive to dietary cholesterol changes, such as obese, insulin-resistant subjects. Or they put people on calorie-restricted diets, diets that are known during the weight-loss phase to blunt the cholesterol-raising impact of both dietary saturated fat and cholesterol. It is a sad observation that with nutrition research it seems increasingly common that those who sponsor that research get what they paid for. And yes, it’s true that some people can eat a lot of eggs and still live to a ripe old age – just as some smokers can. For most people, however, the reality is the more eggs they eat and tobacco smoke they inhale, the greater their risk of cardiovascular disease. The great majority of studies (those not funded by special interest groups) indicate that the more dietary cholesterol we eat, the higher our blood cholesterol rises, and the more artery-damaging plaque we accumulate.”
Also according to Dr Michael Greger, “Blood cholesterol levels are clearly increased by eating dietary cholesterol. In other words, putting cholesterol in our mouth means putting cholesterol in our blood, and it may also potentiate the harmful effects of saturated fats, meaning when we eat sausage and eggs, the eggs may make the effects of the sausage even worse. If you eat the saturated fat and cholesterol found in two sausage and egg McMuffins every day for two weeks, your cholesterol would shoot up nearly 30 points. If you eat about the same amount of saturated fat without the cholesterol, some kind of cholesterol-free sausage McMuffins without the egg, what would happen? Now the egg would have saturated fat too; so, to even it out, we have to add three strips of bacon to the comparison. Same saturated fat but two-eggs-worth less cholesterol would bump us up only around five points. So, saturated fat may increase fasting cholesterol levels more than dietary cholesterol, but especially in the presence of dietary cholesterol. And this is measuring fasting cholesterol, meaning the baseline from which all our meal-related cholesterol spikes would then shoot. Heart disease has been described as a postprandial phenomenon, meaning an after-meal phenomenon. Milky little droplets of fat and cholesterol, called chylomicrons, straight from a meal called can build up in atherosclerotic plaques just like LDL cholesterol. So, what happens after a meal that includes eggs? In my video How the Egg Board Designs Misleading Studies, you can see what happens to the level of fat and cholesterol in our blood stream for the seven hours after eating a meal with no-fat, no-cholesterol. There are hardly changes at all. But when you eat a meal with fat and more and more egg, triglycerides and blood cholesterol shoot up. That’s the kind of data that’s bad for egg sales; so, how could you design a study to hide this fact? What if you only measured fasting cholesterol levels in the morning, seven hours after supper? You wouldn’t see a big difference between those that ate eggs the night before and those that didn’t. As the lead investigator of a study which compared the cardiovascular health effects of smoking versus eating eggs pointed out, measuring fasting cholesterol is appropriate for measuring the effects of drugs suppressing our liver’s cholesterol production, but not appropriate for measuring the effects of dietary cholesterol. After a cholesterol-laden supper, our arteries are being pummeled all night long. Then, think about what’s happening during the day. There may be only four hours between breakfast and lunch. So, if we had eggs for breakfast, we’d get that big spike and by lunch start the whole cycle of fat and cholesterol in our arteries all over again. So, most of our lives are lived in a postprandial state, in an after-meal state, and the graph I show in the video shows that the amount of egg in our meals makes a big difference when it really matters—after we’ve eaten, which is where we spend most of our lives. So, that’s why when the Egg Board funds a study, they only measure fasting cholesterol levels of the next day.”
Unfortunately, since also milk and all dairy products can’t be regarded as healthy or safe and are even more dangerous than eggs, the dairy industry use its wealth to promote their unhealthy products and to hide the truth. According to Prof. T. Colin Campbell, “The dairy folks have been enormously successful in cultivating an environment within virtually all segments of our society – from research and education to public relations and politics – to have us believing that cow’s milk and its products are manna from heaven. Make no mistake about it; the dairy industry has been virtually in total control of any and all public health information that ever rises to the level of public scrutiny.”
So don’t believe the headlines which declare that we don’t have to be concerned about dietary cholesterol anymore found in eggs, milk and dairy products. Instead of cow’s milk and dairy use plant-based milk substitutes and products such as unsweetened almond milk, organic soya milk, oat milk, or coconut milk, Tofu, non-GMO soya yogurts, etc.
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH