In the short video “Time-Traveling Dietitian,” the online comedy troupe Funny Or Die showed why it’s so hard to eat healthily. It opens with a time traveler warning a 1970s-era man not to eat the eggs on his breakfast plate because they contained cholesterol.
The time traveler zips back to the present day only to reappear moments later, saying that he was wrong because there are two types of cholesterol, one good and one bad. He then vanishes and reappears again, saying that the cholesterol in food hardly impacts the cholesterol in one’s blood.
You can guess what happens next: The time-traveling dietitian continues to zip back and forth, constantly critiquing his own advice.
Satire is at its funniest when it most pointedly critiques what’s going on in the world, and a recent report from the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago shows why.
Out of those nearly 30,000, they recorded some 5,400 cardiovascular events. Those can include heart attacks, strokes and general heart disease.
The researchers discovered something that contradicted earlier studies. People who ate more than 300 milligrams more of dietary cholesterol had a 4.4 percent greater chance of early death and a 3.2 percent risk of heart disease. That translates into as little as eating three eggs per week.
Though scientists have often debated the relative merits of eggs, they have agreed on one thing: Eggs contain quite a bit of cholesterol.
Attitudes about eggs have changed from decade to decade, Quartz reported. In the 1960s, society considered eggs to be good for overall health.
Ten years later, the cholesterol connection caused experts to warn people off of them. In the 1980s, further warnings about salmonella in raw eggs cropped up.
However, in 1999, a study published in JAMA revealed no connection between eggs and cardiovascular disease. That finding was reinforced in 2018 by another study showing that people in China who regularly ate eggs had a lower incidence of stroke.
In his study, Zhong hypothesized that the inconsistencies might owe to the fact that other studies failed to account for contributing factors. Those include failing to exercise, using tobacco and eating poorly in general.
“In contrast, the current study included comprehensive assessment of these factors,” Zhong said. Some scientists, though, aren’t so sure.
Dr. Robert H. Eckel of the University of Colorado School of Medicine noted that the connection between eggs and death is “modest.”
“Considering the negative consequences of egg consumption and dietary cholesterol in the setting of heart-healthy dietary patterns, the importance of limiting intake of cholesterol-rich foods should not be dismissed,” he said.
British Heart Foundation dietitian Victoria Taylor noted, “This type of study can only show an association, rather than cause and effect, and more research is needed for us to understand the reasons behind this link.”
“Eggs are a nutritious food and, while this study focuses on the amount we’re eating, it’s just as important to pay attention to how the eggs are cooked and to the trimmings that come with them. Eating healthily is all about balance.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.