This week our contributing writer Doctor Gifford-Jones talks about the importance of eggs, especially Omega-3 eggs in your diet.
But what’s so healthful and special about the super egg? Dr. Steve Lesson and his colleagues at the University of Guelph first produced these enriched eggs by feeding chickens flaxseed which contains Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are unique types of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are essential to health as the human body does not produce them. For instance, they are vital for normal fetal and infant development. In recent years the role of Omega-3 fatty acids has also gained importance in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and assisting in the treatment of some chronic conditions.
Omega-3 fatty acids fight cardiovascular disease in several ways. Platelets are small blood particles that are part of the blood-clotting process. Omega-3 fatty acids keep platelets well-oiled, decreasing the risk of their forming blood clots in coronary arteries.
Omega-3 fatty acids also help to fight inflammation. This is an important finding. Recent studies show that death from heart attack may be the result of a combination of both clogged and inflamed coronary vessels.
But not all oils are created equal. The oils in our food contain different types of fatty acids. The good omega-3fatty acids fight inflammation. The bad omega-6 fatty acids trigger inflammation and North Americans are simply eating too many of the bad omega-6 fatty acids.
Today the typical North American consumes 10X more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. It’s so easy to do. Omega-6 is present in so many everyday foods such as crackers, cookies, margarine, frozen foods, many dessert items along with a variety of processed, packaged foods. It’s also present in corn, sunflower and cottonseed oil. Olive, soybean and canola oils contain omega-3.
Since this nutritional balance is harmful it’s important for all of us to consume more of the good omega-3 oil. It’s present in salmon, halibut, sardines, walnuts, pecans, green leafy vegetables and omega-3 eggs. These “super” egg contain 800 milligrams of omega-3, or two-thirds of the recommended daily allowance.
But whenever I suggest Omega-3 eggs to patients many say, “But if I eat eggs won’t they increase my blood cholesterol and cause a heart attack?” This is a nutritional myth.
University of Guelph researchers fed 28 test subjects four Omega-3 eggs a day. The Omega-3 content of their blood increased 35 per cent. But there was no significant increase in blood cholesterol.
This finding is not a great surprise. Other experiments have shown that enjoying ham and eggs for breakfast does not trigger higher cholesterol levels in most people.
This happens for a very good reason. We all have a “cholesterol stat” similar to the one that controls temperature in our homes. If we consume too much cholesterol the liver produces less. If we don’t eat enough cholesterol it produces more. That is why it’s difficult to lower cholesterol by diet alone as the liver produces 80 to 90 per cent of the cholesterol in our body.
Long-term readers of this column know that I’ve never believed that farmers, hens and cows cause the epidemic of heart disease in this country. It wasn’t the iceberg that sank the Titanic. It was a reckless captain. And likewise imprudent, inactive, cigarette smoking, overfed people are triggering the heart attacks of the nation.