Doctor’s Tip: What about eggs?

Dr. Greg Feinsinger
Doctor's Tip

The purpose of a hen’s egg is to provide the nutrients necessary to develop a baby chick. Eggs are packed with protein, fat, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals. However, as Dr. John McDougall — one of the giants in plant-based nutrition — puts it, “An egg is the richest of all foods, and far too much of a ‘good thing’ for people.” For example, a whole egg has 272 mg. of cholesterol, close to the recommended daily allowance. Eggs also contain cholesterol-raising saturated fat.

It’s frustrating when one month we’re told by the media that a food like eggs should be avoided, and then the next month we’re told they’re OK. The reason for these confusing and frustrating flip-flops is usually that Big Food does its best to sow seeds of doubt about established science when science shows that their product is unhealthy. This is the same tactic used by the Big Tobacco a few decades ago.

Here’s a real-life example of how it works:

  • We know that after eating an egg, triglyceride and cholesterol levels go up for a few hours, and we think this is when harmful plaque is formed in arteries.
  •  The American Egg Board hires research scientists willing to sell their souls and perform a study with a pre-determined outcome that supports their product.
  • The study involves giving study participants an egg, having them fast overnight, and then checking their cholesterol — long after the post-meal rise has subsided. At that point, cholesterol levels are the same as before the egg intake, and the study claims that eating eggs doesn’t raise cholesterol. Of course, the dangerous post-meal rise isn’t mentioned.
  • Food and science writers are usually not sophisticated enough to figure out what’s going on (it’s hard enough for physicians to determine whether studies are valid).
  • Over 90 percent of “scientific” papers on food are now done by industry-sponsored scientists.

Neal Barnard, M.D., founding president of PCRM (Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine) recently reviewed the health problems linked to eggs, which include elevated risk of:  1. strokes; 2. heart attacks, particularly in diabetics; 3. type 2 diabetes; 4. prostate cancer — especially the aggressive kind that spreads.

Michael Greger, M.D., cites evidence showing increased risk of additional health problems associated with eating even one egg a day:  1. asthma in children; 2. inflammation (due to arachidonic acid), the root of many chronic diseases; 3. cancer of the breast, mouth, colon, and bladder, lung and ovary.

Then there are the environmental issues associated with any kind of animal products compared to plant foods. And if you watch the documentary Food, Inc., you will be shocked by the animal rights abuses associated with factory-farm egg production. Crumbled tofu makes a good substitute for egg whites, for example in making tofu scramble. If a baking recipe calls for eggs, substitute ground flaxseed and/or unsweetened apple sauce.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment, or email

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