Banishing Eggs From Diet May Lead To Worse Food Choices

David L. Katz, MD MPH FACPM FACP President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Yale University Prevention Research Center Derby, CT; Griffin Hospital, Derby, CT MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David L. Katz, MD MPH FACPM FACP
President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine
Yale University Prevention Research Center
Derby, CT; Griffin Hospital, Derby, CT

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Katz: We have long advised patients at risk for heart disease to avoid eggs- but have thought relatively little about what they might wind up eating instead. While coronary care units banish eggs, they routinely serve white bread, bagels, pancakes, etc. In general, the exclusion of eggs from the diet may result in more sugary, starchy foods- and if so, might do net harm. We have previously studied egg intake in healthy and dyslipidemic adults, and seen no adverse effects on blood flow or biomarkers in the short term (6 wks). This study examined this issue in adults with coronary artery disease- and again, no adverse effects were seen.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Katz: Egg consumption per se is unlikely to be harmful in heart patients, although longer term intervention studies are warranted to know for sure. The issue is: eggs instead of what? What instead of eggs? If less eggs means more oatmeal, nuts, and berries- that’s probably a good thing. But if less eggs means more bagels, donuts, or bacon- then not so much!

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Katz: We really need to look at the issue of food substitutions: if people eat less of x, what ‘y’ do they eat more of? If they eat more of x, what ‘y’ do they eat less of? What are the net effects on the quality of the overall diet, and of health overall? We have stunningly little research addressing that question. We are running just such a trial now.

Our research does not suggest that anybody is ‘egg deficient.’ but if advice to banish eggs from the diet causes diet quality and health to suffer rather than improve, the advice is questionable- and needs to be revisited. Eggs are highly nutritious, convenient, and very satiating.

Citation:

Effects of egg ingestion on endothelial function in adults with coronary artery disease: A randomized, controlled, crossover trial
Katz DL, Gnanaraj J, Treu JA, Ma Y, Kavak Y, Njike VY.

Am Heart J. 2015 Jan;169(1):162-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2014.10.001. Epub 2014 Oct 7.