What's in Your Basket?
The egg symbolizes Easter and Passover. But why do Americans feel more comfortable eating eggs made from chocolate (and other additives) than those from chickens?
For some, Easter is a religious holiday representing a day of resurrection,
for others it represents the end of winter and excitement that spring and summer are on its way.
Kids loved Breakfast with the Bunny last week. They are getting excited about dying eggs and this weekend’s Easter Egg Hunt at Milford Town Park. And of course they are wondering “what might the Easter Bunny leave me? Will it be plastic eggs filled with candy? Will it be huge chocolate bunnies? Will it be an Easter basket filled with candy, gum, chocolate bunnies and toys?”
Adults are excited for a day to spend with family… and to EAT. Unlike most Sundays, there will typically be appetizers served, a huge meal (with seconds or thirds), candy from the kids’ Easter baskets and of course the cute bunny desserts.
Eating is expected for all American gatherings. Whether it is a celebration of winning, losing, dying, getting married, getting older or celebrating a holiday, food is the first thing people think about and often overindulge in.
It is strange that many people will toss a Cadbury egg, an ear of a chocolate bunny, 10 jellybeans and an egg-shaped Reeses in their mouths, but won’t eat a real egg for fear it will raise their cholesterol. For years eggs have had the stigma of being a “bad” food and many clients and patients tell me they don’t eat eggs for this reason. If you didn’t get a chance to see 60 Minutes on Sunday night explaining how sugar can raise cholesterol, I encourage you to watch it.
Let’s break down cholesterol. It is measured by four tests: Total, LDL (low density lipoprotein) or “bad”, HDL (high density lipoprotein) or “good” and Triglygerides.
As explained on 60 Minutes, LDL has two types: Small density and large density. If someone has a lot of small density LDL the cholesterol can get stuck in tiny cracks along the blood vessels (think of a tiny pebble getting stuck in a groove in your shoe). However, if most of the LDL is big or “fluffy” it doesn’t get stuck (have you ever had a boulder get stuck in your shoe?). The LDL goal is less than 100, according to the National Institutes of Health, but it should also be "fluffy." The higher the small particle LDL number, the higher the risk for heart attacks and strokes due to inflammation and collection in the blood vessels.
Sugar increases small particle LDL and Triglycerides. Most physicians don’t test for LDL particle size described here.
Ready for a mind blowing newsflash?
Eggs are not health demons. The NIH reviewed many studies and announced in February 2011 that consuming eggs does not affect cholesterol levels. And the good news? They increase the "fluffy" LDL. Egg yolks have lecithin which actually works to keep cholesterol from oxidizing also helping the body to emulsify fat in the digestive tract and in the blood. Who doesn’t want their fat emulsified?
Egg yolks are loaded with vitamins B, D, A and E which help with energy, bone health and have antioxidant powers. One egg contains 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories. I buy local eggs from Milford’s Ferrucci & Son because they use no steroids or antibiotics for their chickens “even though the grain is more expensive,” said Michelle Ferrucci.
Trans fat also increases small particle LDL and unfortunately most Easter candy contains partially hydrogenated oils.
Coincidently, Passover starts Friday night and hard boiled eggs are a main part of the Seder plate.
Having fun doesn't mean no 'junk,' but Health Happenings is written to build a healthier community. And a healthier body is built on less food, less sugar and more real food, including eggs.