I recently spotted an article in a magazine which stated that doctors have finally decided that eggs are good for us, and that the old adage ‘Go to work on an egg’ might actually be good advice. And why was this ever in doubt? The problem is that eggs are rich in cholesterol, along with shellfish and other exciting foods, and cholesterol is bad for us, isn’t it?
Oh dear, oh dear. When I was a biochemistry student in the 1960s, I had to write a lengthy essay on the difference between a cholesterol lowering diet and a low cholesterol diet, and to discuss the health importance of each.
We knew then – 50 years ago – that a cholesterol lowering diet was one that was low in saturated fat (animal fat) and contained a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fat (vegetable oil), and that a low cholesterol diet was of no significance to health because our blood cholesterol level is not influenced by the cholesterol in our diet. So, it has taken 50 years for this to permeate down to some of the nutritional gurus, and many of us have denied ourselves healthy food because it might contain a smidgeon of cholesterol.
Of course, some more pernicious myths have been debunked over time. Any doctor my age would have been taught that margarine was healthier than butter. I am referring here to the margarine of the day, which still abounds in many parts of the world. Of course we now know that this trans fat is vastly inferior to butter and extremely dangerous to health. Do I hear any apologies? Has it been withdrawn from the market? Sadly, no.
Is it any wonder that the general public is confused and sceptical?