Half-truths annoy me

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Honestly, I don’t know why I keep reading these women’s magazine articles on food and nutrition. There is almost always something in them to annoy me. Mostly because I just know someone will read these articles and take every word as actual fact - and that’s not always such a great idea.

Yesterday I gravitated toward an article in Women’s Health Magazine which listed the 7 “Best Fitness Foods for Women”. Mostly I just skimmed through their easy reading slideshow to see what they were (you can go look, but they’re the exact same foods that are on every “superfoods” list – nothing that will make you want to rush out to Kroger and stock up) but I came to a dead stop when I saw “Eat the yolks”. Hmmm. Really? Is this some new research I need to know about? What did I miss? Here’s what it said:

Don't skip the yolk. One egg a day supplies 215 milligrams of cholesterol—not enough to push you over the 300-milligram daily cholesterol limit recommended by the American Heart Association. Plus, the yolk is a good source of iron, and it's loaded with lecithin, critical for brain health, says nutritionist Susan Kleiner, Ph.D. What does brain power have to do with exercise? Try doing a sun salutation without it

Think about that for a minute and, ignoring the sun salutation reference, see if you can figure out why that’s not the best advice. Yes, their expert advice is technically true. But, do you only eat one egg? And, if you do, do you not eat any other cholesterol-containing foods (meat, poultry, dairy, baked goods) all day? If you stop at that one egg, then certainly you’ll be in like Flynn. And how old am I with that expression?

Curious, I headed over to the American Heart Association’s website to see what was up in the world of egg yolks and found the above-quoted "fact" to be a mere snippet of what the AHA actually said. The full quote was:

One egg contains about 213 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. The daily recommended cholesterol limit is less than 300 milligrams for people with normal LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

They then went on to say that if you ate that one egg for breakfast, drank two cups of coffee with one tablespoon of half-and-half each, lunched on four ounces of lean turkey breast without skin and one tablespoon of mayonnaise, and had a 6-ounce serving of broiled, short loin porterhouse steak for dinner, you would have consumed about 510 mg of dietary cholesterol that day — nearly twice the recommended limit. And seriously? Most of us don’t eat that carefully.

Here’s the worst part and a caveat that wasn’t even mentioned in their article – people with high LDL blood cholesterol levels, or who are taking a blood cholesterol-lowering medication, should eat less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day. In this case, that single egg yolk would already be TOO MUCH.

But what I’m really annoyed about is that they MADE ME GO LOOK THIS UP. Now how am I ever going to enjoy a 3-egg ham and cheese omelet again?


Sarah :) said...

This frustrates me, too. But it seems like everything you eat and/or do has pros and cons, depending on who's doing the research. For example, we all know sun exposure leads to skin cancer....but then I remember reading in a magazine one time to "get out there and soak up some natural sunlight," because it prevented some OTHER form of cancer. Come on, people!

For that omelet I'd stick with Better'n'Eggs. :)

Camevil said...

Out of all the good fitness foods, they just had to put whole eggs on that list? Whaaaaaa?

My mother-in-law reads Women's Health and I just know that she's going to bring up the "eggs are healthy" advice next time I see her. Thanks for taking one for the team and researching this fallacy. Now I am armed and ready!

Nana said...

Don't Read Health Articles!!!!!
That's my motto.

Debbie said...

Here's how. Just think about the calories you burned looking that up and fuming over it. Now, have that omelet.

Ryan Ashley Scott@Optimistic Cynicism said...

The sad part is, there are people who read these things for answers without thinking critically about the content.

Krist Summer said...

so annoying can't believe what they write!

Kerry said...

I still can't help myself. I just love eggs. I have normal cholesterol and I do allow myself to eat eggs a few times a week.

By the way, I like your new design ;-)