By Kennedy Shelley
An egg a day got the thumbs up from Harvard Health again.
This has been an on again off again conversation within the health community for nearly 50 years.
Back in 1984 Time magazine set the tone for the war against cholesterol with their cover saying eggs and bacon were bad.
But by 2014 the pendulum had swung the other way
Why has this been such a matter of controversy? This actually goes back to the Eisenhower administration. The president had a heart attack. It came at a time when more and more Americans were developing heart disease.
What you may not realize is that this was a new phenomenon. Prior to WWII there was very little type 2 diabetes in the US and very few people had heart attacks.
But with the rise of vegetable (industrial seed) oil, sugar and smoking from the 1940’s heart disease started to increase.
But in 1961 Ancel Keys announced that he had discovered the problem: dietary cholesterol. This was not proven, but there were two things that made him sure of his conviction:
- The stuff that was clogging arteries was cholesterol plaques.
- He looked at seven countries and found that the higher amount of animal fat eaten lead to a higher cholesterol level.
The problem with his hypothesis was:
- He could not explain why the cholesterol plaques formed.
- He could not show that cholesterol in the blood caused problems.
Strangely his seven-country study actually pointed out that sugar was just as big of a danger as animal fat.
But the American Heart Association received some major donations from the sugar industry and the companies that made Crisco and they declared war on animal fat and eggs.
By the 1980’s the rate of smoking dropped, but there were more heart attacks than ever, so the medical establishment started trying to convince America that eggs were no longer incredible and edible.
Per capita egg consumption dropped in half in the US, but the number of heart attacks continued to rise from the 1980’s onward.
Finally, around 2010 people started questioning the war on dietary cholesterol.
Many pointed out that Keys’ idea was a hypothesis, an idea, but there was no scientific proof that linked cholesterol with heart disease.
In 2009 someone finally checked the cholesterol levels of those who had heart attacks. They could not find a link between heart attacks and cholesterol.
75% of those hospitalized with a heart attack had normal to low levels of cholesterol.
But medicine has been slow to get the news.
Especially since there were very lucrative drugs known as statins that were making billions of dollars a year that only did one thing, lower the cholesterol level.
Then in the last few years more evidence came out that showed that higher cholesterol levels were actually a marker for longer life.
A low cholesterol level when you got over 80 predicted death better than any other marker.
Slowly but surely the war on cholesterol is starting to end, and the egg is being vindicated.
The new study by Harvard showing that an egg a day does nothing to make you more at risk of a heart attack is just one more nail in the anti-cholesterol coffin.