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Egg Industry Blind Spot

To help deflect criticism from the cholesterol content of their product, the egg industry touts the benefits of two phytonutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, that have indeed been shown to be beneficial in protecting one’s eyesight against vision threatening conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. But how do eggs stack up against plant-based sources?

September 2, 2011 |
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The  egg industry loves to boast that eggs have these two compounds, lutein and zeaxanthin, that appear so protective against cataracts and macular degeneration.  What the industry does is feed hens yellow corn, alfalfa, even marigold petals, anything to boost the egg content up to 166 mcg per large egg. So, they say,  don't worry about about that whole cholesterol thing, eat eggs to protect your sight.

 Eggs can actually have up to 250, a cup of carrots, though,  has over 1,000. A single serving of collard greens  closer to 15,000 and a  serving of kale tops the chart at nearly 24,000.

 One spoonful of spinach  has as much as 9 eggs. For eye protection,  the recommendation is to get 10,000 a day. So  that’s like a third cup spinach or,  40 eggs, More than 3 cartons of eggs a day, every day.

 That’s nutrition unscrambled?

 Here are the top ten sources of these critical eyesight-saving nutrients. All greens. Eggs don’t even make the top 100 food sources. To get to eggs you have to scroll down a couple pages, and according to the USDA,  come in right behind, Captain crunch with crunchberries.

There are more phtyonutrients in crunchberries than there are in eggs.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

For more on the egg industry's misrepresentation of the facts, see my Avoiding cholesterol is a no brainer and Egg cholesterol in the diet videos on their scrambling of cholesterol science.

For some more context, check out my associated blog posts: Preserving Vision Through Diet, Bad EggStool Size and Breast Cancer Risk98% of American Diets Potassium DeficientPrevent Breast Cancer by Any Greens NecessaryEggs, Cigarettes, and Atherosclerosis, and Why Are Eggs Linked to Cancer Progression?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    For more on the egg industry’s misrepresentation of the facts, see my Avoiding cholesterol is a no brainer and Egg cholesterol in the diet videos on their scrambling of cholesterol science.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/eagleraych/ eagleraych

    Wow- fascinating!

    One question, though, why did you choose the second “egg” listing in the database (there is another one right below General Mills Corn Flakes)? Just wondering because that was the first “egg” that popped out to me…

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

      You don’t call yourself “eagle” for nothing! Great catch eagle-eyed, eagleraych–I didn’t even see that first egg listing! Wow, I’ll have to go back and re-count. Eggs may actually slip in to the top 100 after all! Thank you so much for catching that. I’m going to add this to the queue of videos that I intend on rerecording to correct these kinds of flubs–how embarrassing! I can’t thank you enough. In fact, if you email me your mailing address I will send you a complimentary copy of my latest DVD as a small token of thanks for you helping me improve the site.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/EricNeeds/ Eric Needs

    WOW, how could they do that? are they kidding themselves. Might as well be like, “yeah there’s protein so eat up!”

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/41294/ 41294

    This is a great video, showing how the animal food industries supplement their foods with traces of nutrients in order to be able to say that the foods are healthful (not how healthful) in one respect, despite their unhealthfulness.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/gvermont/ gvermont

    Thank you SO much for this information! I found myself at a party last week with an ophthalmologist who berated me for my plant based diet. She raged on about how I, and all vegans, would suffer macular degeneration. She reported that she’d seen it many times over the years with vegans. She told me that I had to eat 5 eggs a week to protect myself. I was at first upset, but then turned to you! Thank you for all your hard work and research. Seems we have another doctor who is not up on nutrition!

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      I hate when doctors think vegans are deficient in an abundant nutrient!

      • LynnCS

        I am lucky to have found a Dr. who is vegan and understands (most of) these findings. I do however, have an accupuncturist who is also a kick box and Zumba leader. She says she loves my Dr. but is constantly asking me about getting “enough protein.” The issue has become uncomfortable and I am torn between trying to convince her and not going to her any more which hurts me, but the stress is really uncomfortable. Any ideas?

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/thea/ Thea

    This is a bit off-topic, but I have a question about an eye problem. A person who is very close to me has the eye problem explained below. My question is: is there anything that can be done about it with diet? Is the greens listed in the video going to help with this particular problem? Or is there another class of food this person can eat to help? Thanks for any help anyone can give.

    Problem: “glaucoma. It appears I need some kind of treatment for Elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP). The pressure in my right eye is at 39, which is way higher than it has been. The left eye is normal at 15-16. The pressure became elevated after I had a posterior lens implant for cataracts in 2006. It may have been the wrong kind of lens implant. I don’t want to have a tube inserted into my eye to relieve pressure, because of the problems this can cause. I wouldn’t mind trying a laser treatment to relieve pressure but have been told by my ophthalmologist that since I have had other surgeries on my eyes for such things as cataracts and yag laser treatments, I am not a good candidate for this surgery. I have been having reactions to a wide range of IOP meds, such as Pilocarpine, Xalatan, Lumigan, Timoptic in Ocudose in a .5% solution, Istalol, Alphagon and Alapha. Drug reactions have included at various times: sleepless nights, tingling in fingers and toes, jitteriness, fuzzy-headed feelings, pain in my eye, nausea, diarrhea, to list a few. All symptoms go away when I stop using these eye drops. I would try the laser treatment, if someone was knowledgeable and optomistic doing it.”

    So, drugs are not working and she is rightly afraid of any more surgeries. Can diet come to the rescue?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Bad Egg!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=677926010 Arun Mukherjee

    Hello Dr. Greger:

    This information is very useful for me as I suffer from wet macular degeneration.  I have one question, though. when the industry says, assisted by some medical “experts,” that the lutein in eggs is more bioabailable than that found in greens, is it right?  Could you help me grasp the notion of bioavailability that my meat eating friends also throw around?

    Thanks

    Arun Mukherjee

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=677926010 Arun Mukherjee

    Sorry about the twice posted comment.  This is my first time posting and so I goofed.  But just want to add that this is a very important video for me as I suffer from macular degeneration, and, of course, get told to consume eggs and fatty fish.  I have been a vegetarian all my life and do not wish to change.

  • Steve

    I noted an odd thing in the data.  Although the data on the weights of the foods were not standardized so comparison is difficult, cooked spinach seemed to be a much richer source of lutein and zeaxanthin than raw (not surprising), but that did not seem to be the case for broccoli.  I know that it’s a crap shoot between nutrients being potentiated vs. weakened by cooking.  Have you noted any pattern between cooked vs. raw for these nutrients?  Thanks.

  • Real Food Fan

    I love your videos!

    Can you comment on the study released in August 2012 that compared the damaging potential of eggs for those at high risk for heart disease with smoking? When I mentioned this study, many people said that it was poorly designed and that the researchers have ties to big pharma. 
    What I don’t understand is how telling people that eggs can greatly increase heart disease for high risk patients is being equated to supporting big pharma. Can you shed some light on this?

  • Alexander

    They’re equal in terms of nutrients–one is just larger. According to this list– http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR17/wtrank/sr17a208.pdf–it’s just that one of them is large and the other is extra large.
    Curiously, for no good reason that I can see, the USDA defines “medium,” “large,” and “extra large” eggs inconsistently with their public mass list.

  • Wking02s

    This a little off topic here but it is egg related. Has there been any research comparing pastured organic eggs to conventional eggs. I have often heard local food advocates make the assertion that there is and that pastured organic eggs are much better than conventional. I actually know someone who is an ex vegan who makes this claim along with pastured and organic meats. I think she has probably drank some of the Weston Price Koolaide but I wanted to know if there are any studies on the topic.

  • Sebastian Tristan

    Knowledge is king.