Are Eggs Good or Bad For You? Let's Ask ACSH Advisor Dr. David Seres

You can scramble (or even fry) your brains trying to keep up with which foods are good for you or bad for you, especially since some foods seem to jump gleefully from one column to another, and maybe even back again. This is the schizophrenic science of nutrition. And, perhaps, no food personifies the capricious nature of food science better than eggs.

Following are some excerpts from ACSH advisor Dr. David Seres' latest opinion piece in The Hill.

"Nearly everyone I ask is sick and tired of how often we nutrition experts seem to change our minds about whether eggs are good or bad for you. In the past several weeks, alone, two powerful studies have been published in major medical journals. Of course they contradict each other. One tells us that eggs will prevent heart attacks and the other that they will kill you with a heart attack."

In case that's not enough to swallow...

"But a third study, also published in the past few weeks with enormous media attention, may once and for all answer the question of whether eggs are healthy or harmful. In it, they looked at people who skipped breakfast in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and found that those who did had a higher risk of heart attacks."

As is the case with other scientific and medical issues, it is not uncommon for the media to get it all wrong.

"Despite what the news says, none of these studies provide any information about whether eggs cause anything, or that skipping breakfast shortens your life. Each of these studies is designed for one thing only: to look for a correlation. Not to determine cause and effect."

Dr. Seres explains that nutritional science is so uncertain because retrospective studies, often based on recollection, can, at best establish an association between the consumption of a food and its impact on health - not any causation. Only randomized trials can determine causation, but these trials are especially difficult in the field of nutrition. 

"Cause and effect can only be derived from a randomized trial. But, since nutritional effects are slow to occur, these studies take years to do, large numbers of willing participants and are very expensive. Further, since randomized trials require similar groups, the subjects are selected for certain characteristics and the results only really apply to those people who have these characteristics."

To separate the white from the yolk we suggest that you read Dr. Seres' entire opinion piece here