Are Eggs and Egg Yolks Bad For You?

Eggs

On one hand, they’re considered an excellent and inexpensive source of protein and various nutrients. On the other hand, some people believe the yolks can increase your risk of heart disease.

Whole eggs have two main components:

Egg white: the white part, which is mostly protein

Egg yolk: the yellow or orange part, which is rich in nutrients

The main reason eggs were considered unhealthy in the past is that the yolks are high in cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in food. It’s also made by your body. A few decades ago, large studies linked high blood cholesterol to heart disease.

In 1961, the American Heart Association recommended limiting dietary cholesterol. Many other international health organizations did the same.

Over the next several decades, worldwide egg consumption decreased significantly. Many people replaced eggs with cholesterol-free egg substitutes that were promoted as a healthier option.

For several decades, eggs were believed to increase heart disease risk because of their high cholesterol content.

It’s true that whole eggs are high in cholesterol

Whole eggs (with the yolks) are indeed high in cholesterol. In fact, they’re a significant source of cholesterol in the standard American diet.

Two large whole eggs (100 grams) contain about 411 mg of cholesterol (1Trusted Source). By contrast, 100 grams of 30% fat ground beef has about 78 mg of cholesterol (2Trusted Source).

Until recently, the recommended maximum daily intake of cholesterol was 300 mg per day. It was even lower for people with heart disease.

However, based on the latest research, health organizations in many countries no longer recommend restricting cholesterol intake.

For the first time in decades, the Dietary Guidelines for AmericansTrusted Source released in December 2015 did not specify an upper daily limit for dietary cholesterol.

Despite this change, many people remain concerned about consuming eggs. This is because they’ve been conditioned to associate high dietary cholesterol intake with high blood cholesterol and heart disease.

However, just because a food is high in cholesterol doesn’t necessarily mean it raises cholesterol levels in your blood.

Two whole eggs contain 411 mg of cholesterol, which exceeds the maximum daily limit that was in place for many decades. However, this restriction on dietary cholesterol has now been lifted.

How eating eggs affects blood cholesterol

Although it may seem logical that dietary cholesterol would raise blood cholesterol levels, it usually doesn’t work that way.

Your liver actually produces cholesterol in large amounts because cholesterol is a necessary nutrient for your cells.

When you eat larger amounts of high cholesterol foods, such as eggs, your liver produces less cholesterol because more of it is coming from your diet (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

Conversely, when you get little cholesterol from food, your liver produces more to compensate.

Because of this, blood cholesterol levels don’t change significantly in most people when they eat more cholesterol from foods (Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

In one long-term, well-designed study, consuming egg yolks daily for 1 year did not significantly change total cholesterol, LDL (bad) or HDL cholesterol, or the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (an important marker of heart disease) in adults with early signs of age-related macular degeneration (5Trusted Source).

However, one review of well-designed studies in healthy individuals found that eating cholesterol-containing foods raised both LDL (bad) and HDL cholesterol, but the ratio of LDL to HDL (an important marker of heart disease risk) remained constant compared with the control group (6Trusted Source).

Likewise, in another study, 30 people who ate 3 eggs per day for 13 weeks had higher total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL (bad) cholesterol compared with those who took only a choline supplement.

However, their HDL to LDL ratio remained the same (7Trusted Source). The study’s authors concluded that eating foods high in cholesterol regulates the amount of cholesterol your body makes in order to maintain the HDL to LDL ratio.

Also, keep in mind that cholesterol isn’t a “bad” substance. It is actually involved in various processes in your body, such as:

· production of vitamin D

· production of steroid hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone

· production of bile acids, which help digest fat

Last but not least, cholesterol is an essential component of every cell membrane in your body, making it necessary for survival.

When you eat eggs or other cholesterol-rich foods, your liver produces less cholesterol. As a result, your blood cholesterol levels will likely stay about the same or increase slightly while your HDL to LDL ratio remains the same.

Do eggs increase heart disease risk?

Several controlled studies have examined how eggs affect heart disease risk factors. The findings are mostly positive or neutral.

Studies show that eating one to two whole eggs per day doesn’t seem to change cholesterol levels or heart disease risk factors (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

In one well-designed study, eating two eggs per day did not adversely affect biomarkers of heart disease compared with eating oatmeal (9Trusted Source). Additionally, those who ate eggs for breakfast reported greater satiety than those who ate oatmeal.

Another well-designed study found that eating two eggs per day did not significantly affect total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, or glycemic control in people with overweight or obesity who also have prediabetes or diabetes (10Trusted Source).

Another well-designed study looked at the effects of eating eggs on endothelial function in people with heart disease. The endothelium is a membrane that lines your heart and blood vessels.

Eating 2 eggs for breakfast for 6 weeks did not result in differences in cholesterol, flow-mediated dilation (an assessment of vascular function), blood pressure, or body weight compared with eating Egg Beaters or a high carbohydrate breakfast (11Trusted Source).

Eating eggs may also help lower risk of metabolic syndrome.

One large study of adults reported that women who consumed seven eggs per week had lower risk of metabolic syndrome than those who ate one egg per week. (12Trusted Source)

Similarly, another study associated eating four to six eggs per week with decreased risk of metabolic syndrome, compared with eating one egg per month. (13Trusted Source)

What’s more, consuming eggs as part of a low carb diet improves markers of heart disease in people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. This includes the size and shape of LDL particles (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

One study followed prediabetics who were on a carb-restricted diet. Those who consumed whole eggs experienced better insulin sensitivity and greater improvements in heart health markers than those who ate egg whites (14Trusted Source).

In another study, prediabetic people on low-carb diets ate 3 eggs per day for 12 weeks. They had fewer inflammatory markers than those who consumed an egg substitute on an otherwise identical diet (15Trusted Source).

Although LDL (bad) cholesterol tends to stay the same or increase only slightly when you eat eggs, (good) cholesterol typically increases (14Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

In addition, eating omega-3 enriched eggs may help lower triglyceride levels (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

Research also suggests that eating eggs on a regular basis may be safe for people who already have heart disease. In fact, eating eggs may be associated with fewer cardiac events.

One large study of healthy adults examined peoples’ egg consumption over almost 9 years. Daily egg consumption (less than 1 egg) was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, and stroke among middle-aged adults. (19Trusted Source)

Another large study found no link between eating eggs and death from coronary heart disease. In men, eating eggs was associated with a lower incidence of death from stroke (20Trusted Source).

To top things off, a review of 17 observational studies with a total of 263,938 people found no association between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke (21Trusted Source).

Studies have shown that egg consumption generally has beneficial or neutral effects on heart disease risk.

Do eggs increase diabetes risk?

Controlled studies show that eggs may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce heart disease risk factors in people with prediabetes.

However, there is conflicting research on egg consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

One recent review of studies determined that eating up to seven eggs per week does not significantly increase markers for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in both people with and without diabetes(22Trusted Source).

However, a review of two studies involving more than 50,000 adults found that those consuming at least one egg daily were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who ate less than one egg per week (23Trusted Source).

A second study in women found an association between high dietary cholesterol intake and increased diabetes risk, but not specifically for eggs (24Trusted Source).

And a large observational study that found no link between eating eggs and heart attacks or strokes did find a 54% increased risk of heart disease when they only looked at people with diabetes (21Trusted Source).

Based on these studies, eggs could be problematic for people living with prediabetes or diabetes.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these are observational studies based on self-reported food intake.

In fact, controlled studies have found that eating eggs along with a nutritious diet may benefit people with diabetes.

In one study, people with diabetes who consumed a high protein, high cholesterol diet containing two eggs per day experienced reductions in fasting blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure, along with an increase in HDL cholesterol (25Trusted Source).

Other studies link egg consumption with improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammation in people with prediabetes and diabetes (14Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

Studies on eggs and diabetes provide mixed results. Several observational studies show an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while controlled trials show an improvement in various health markers.

Your genes may affect how you respond to egg consumption

Although eggs pose no risk to health for most people, it’s been suggested that it may differ for those with certain genetic traits.

However, more research is needed in this area.

SUMMARY

Eggs are loaded with nutrients

Eggs are a particularly nutrient-rich food. They are a great source of high quality protein, as well as several important vitamins and minerals.

One large whole egg contains:

Calories: 72

Protein: 6 grams

Vitamin A: 10% of the daily value (DV)

Riboflavin: 16% of the DV

Vitamin B12: 21% of the DV

Folate: 9% of the DV

Iron: 5% of the DV

Selenium: 28% of the DV

Eggs also contain many other nutrients in smaller amounts.

SUMMARY

Eggs are high in a number of important vitamins and minerals, along with high quality protein.

Eggs have many health benefits

Studies show that eating eggs can have various health benefits. These include:

Help keep you full. Several studies show that eggs promote fullness and help control hunger so you eat less at your next meal (9Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).

Promote weight loss. The high quality protein in eggs increases metabolic rate and can help you lose weight (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).

Protect brain health. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is important for your brain (44Trusted Source, 45Trusted Source, 46Trusted Source).

Reduce eye disease risk. The lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs help protect against eye diseases like cataracts and macular degeneration (16Trusted Source, 47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).

Decrease inflammation. Eggs may reduce inflammation, which is linked to various health conditions (15Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).


Eating a Traditional Human Diet

I am puzzled as to why about 90% of the posts I see on all of the Paleo sites here on FB give recipes for dishes dealing with grain substitutes. This one gives the the following ingredients; flax meal, bananas, berries, honey or maple syrup, almond meal. Many are for dessert recipes with sugar, coconut meal, honey.. Keeping the focus on desserts and substitutes is not what following a Paleo Diet is about. Paleo is about optimizing our diet to meet our nutrient needs and if we are still craving these foods then we need to look at why and to move toward healthy fats, proteins and low glycemic vegetables with very small amounts of fruit.


Thai Shrimp Salad with Asian Greens and Cilantro Pesto

Thai Spiced Shrimp Salad


Poor Health Is Now The Norm

image

Note- That stat for autism is now at 1 in 50 has autism.

Let’s face it; Americans are severly malnourished.


What Should You Eat Each Day? (Hint- more Fruits and Veggies!)

It’s been a confusing few decades; low fat or not, are eggs healthy, what about fats, why NOT cook with olive oil?

Americans are confused. What IS great nutrition?  What about calories?  Why can’t I lose weight, I exercise a lot?


The Climate-Friendly Vegetable You Ought to Eat

Kelp

Kelp is delicious and versatile, and farming it is actively good for the ocean. Melissa Clark wants you to just try a bite.

By Melissa Clark

PORTLAND, Me. — It was a sharp, windy March day, but the gray water of Casco Bay glimmered green in the sun. On his lobster boat, the Pull N’ Pray, Justin Papkee scanned the surface of the ocean, searching for his buoys. But he wasn’t looking for lobster traps.

Mr. Papkee was farming, not fishing: His crop, clinging to ropes beneath the cold waves, was seaweed, thousands of pounds of brownish kelp undulating under the surface. Growing at a rate of 4 to 6 inches per day for the past six months, it was nearly ready to be harvested and sent to restaurants like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Estela, Houseman, Saint Julivert Fisherie and Luke’s Lobster in New York, and Honey Paw, Chaval and the Purple House here in Maine.

He pulled a blade of kelp from his line and handed me a long, translucent strip. I took a bite, and then another, seawater running down my chin.

Justin Papkee, kept company by his dog, Seguin, pulling up a line of kelp. Harvesting wild kelp is ancient, but farming it is a relatively new practice in the United States.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

Justin Papkee, kept company by his dog, Seguin, pulling up a line of kelp. Harvesting wild kelp is ancient, but farming it is a relatively new practice in the United States.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

I’d eaten plenty of seaweed salads at Japanese and vegan restaurants, but this was not that. A variety called skinny kelp, it was lightly salty and profoundly savory, with a flavor like ice-cold oyster liquor, and a crisp, snappy texture somewhere between stewed collard greens and al dente fettuccine. The chef Brooks Headley, who adds it in slippery slivers to the barbecued carrots he serves at Superiority Burger in New York, described it in an email as “insanely delicious and texturally incredible.”

It was as different from the usual sushi bar seaweed salad as cottony, out-of-season peaches are from juicy, ripe ones from the farmers’ market: a wan substitute for what should be delectable.

Harvesting wild kelp is ancient, but farming it is relatively new in the United States; it’s the main variety of seaweed being cultivated here. The technology was imported from Asia and adopted here by a group of ecologically minded entrepreneurs who view seaweed as the food crop of the future. Kelp is nutritionally dense (it’s loaded with potassium, iron, calcium, fiber, iodine and a bevy of vitamins); it actively benefits ocean health by mitigating excess carbon dioxide and nitrogen; and can provide needed income to small fisheries threatened by climate change and overfishing.

“Kelp is a superhero of seaweed,” said Susie Arnold, a marine scientist at the Island Institute in Rockland, Me. “It de-acidifies the ocean by removing nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon dioxide, which we have too much of.”

A feel-good superfood, kelp is more than the new kale. It’s a rare bright spot on an increasingly dim horizon, an umami-rich glint of hope.

Justin’s father, Chris Papkee, at left, and Jimmy Ranaghan removing the kelp from the long ropes on which it grows.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

Justin’s father, Chris Papkee, at left, and Jimmy Ranaghan removing the kelp from the long ropes on which it grows.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

“Kelp is sustainable on so many levels,” said Briana Warner, the chief executive officer of Atlantic Sea Farms, a Maine kelp company that’s helping local fishermen start kelp farms. “It’s environmentally sustainable, it’s physically sustaining because it’s so good for you, and farming it helps sustain family livelihoods that are in danger of disappearing.”

Ocean scientists call kelp farming a zero-input food source. It doesn’t require arable land, fresh water and fertilizers (or pesticides). And kelp farming has been shown to improve water quality to such a degree that shellfish farmed amid the kelp develop noticeably thicker shells and sweeter, larger meat.

Before the first kelp farms started in Maine about a decade ago, if you wanted to cook with edible seaweed (not to be confused with the decidedly undelicious rockweed that washes up on beaches), you’d have go to the shore and forage it yourself.

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Justin Papkee sorting the just-harvested kelp into bins on his lobster boat, the Pull N’ Pray.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

Justin Papkee sorting the just-harvested kelp into bins on his lobster boat, the Pull N’ Pray.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

Sweet red dulse, inky alaria and ruffled sea lettuces have fed coastal communities for thousands of years. Traditional Welsh recipes call for frying fresh seaweed in bacon fat, while in Ireland it’s been cooked with potatoes, and in Scotland it’s made into biscuits and bread. Native Americans historically used all manner of seaweed — red, brown and green — both dried and fresh. And of course in Japan, cooking with seaweed has evolved into a highly refined art.

In the United States, though, dried seaweed has not yet left the health-food fringes, relegated to the same category as nutritional yeast and chia seeds.

One reason may be our lack of exposure to the good stuff. The majority of seaweed salads I get with my sushi are cloying and damp, lacking the mineral zing of fresh kelp.

John Magazino, a product development specialist at the Chefs’ Warehouse, a specialty food supplier for restaurants, explained why fresh kelp is so different from the seaweed you find in most seaweed salads: “Most of the seaweed salads we get in the States are imported from Asia, where they add corn syrup and dyes. Seaweed salad shouldn’t be sweet and neon green.”

Skinny kelp, a variety with narrow but thick, ruffled blades, grows over the winter months on ropes submerged in the Gulf of Maine.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

Skinny kelp, a variety with narrow but thick, ruffled blades, grows over the winter months on ropes submerged in the Gulf of Maine.CreditMatt Cosby for The New York Times

Mr. Magazino, who finds truffles and caviar for Daniel Boulud and David Chang, has been selling frozen fresh Maine-grown kelp to chefs for the past three years. He was on Mr. Papkee’s boat to make sure he’d have the quality and quantity of kelp he’d need for distribution to his high-end clients.

“Once the chefs taste it, and understand how good it is for the ocean, they all want in,” he said.

I suspect home cooks will, too. I returned from Maine with a suitcase full of frozen local kelp, and spent a happy, well-fed week cooking with the stuff until I ran out.

Because kelp develops in constantly changing ocean tides and temperatures, its cell structure won’t break down if you freeze, thaw and refreeze it, which makes it convenient to keep stashed between the frozen edamame and the sorbet. (Dried seaweed, like kombu, dulse and nori, are separate products from frozen fresh kelp, and require different preparations.)

Roasted chicken is seasoned with seaweed butter, and served with crisp kelp, red onions and potatoes.CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Roasted chicken is seasoned with seaweed butter, and served with crisp kelp, red onions and potatoes.CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Once the kelp thawed, I used it like any other green vegetable, throwing it into smoothies, salads and my soup pot, and sautéing it with garlic and chile. One night, I roasted it with potatoes and chicken fat until the top got as crisp as the seaweed snacks my 10-year-old daughter can’t get enough of, while the bottom turned silky soft, like creamed spinach with a saline kick.

But my favorite dish was anchovy pasta with a lemony, garlicky, pesto-like kelp sauce that flecked everything emerald and deepened the oceanic flavors in the pan. Even my daughter lapped it up.

Those are just a few of the possibilities. When the harvest comes in and I can restock my freezer, I’ll steam the kelp with fresh corn, stuff it into whole fish and scatter it over pizza.

Spicy, lemony pasta with anchovy gets an umami boost from a sauce made from puréed kelp.CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Spicy, lemony pasta with anchovy gets an umami boost from a sauce made from puréed kelp. CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

The only hard part for both chefs and home cooks may be finding a consistent source for kelp, which is available online and through a very small number of seafood shops, and in limited quantities. But the industry is young, and more fresh seaweed is becoming available on the market every year.

In 2015, about 14,000 pounds of kelp were harvested from farms in Maine, according to Jaclyn Robidoux, a seaweed specialist at Maine Sea Grant at the University of Maine. In 2018, that number was just over 53,000 pounds, and it is expected to reach more than 300,000 pounds this year.

Across the United States, she said, the opportunities for growth are huge. With its vast expanses of untrammeled coastline, Alaska is primed to overtake Maine as the state that produces the most farmed kelp.

There are also small kelp farms in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, and experimental endeavors in New York, California, Oregon and Washington.

In Maine, the majority of kelp farmers are from fishing families who have relied on lobsters for the bulk of their income. For them, kelp farming is a natural fit. The seasons are compatible; kelp farming takes place in the winter, lobster fishing in the summer. They already have all the necessary gear — a boat, ropes and buoys — and they understand the currents and tides of the gulf.

“Growing the seaweed itself is really straightforward,” Ms. Robidoux said. “I’ve run a kelp nursery in a seventh-grade classroom.”

It can also be a smart way for fisheries to diversify as wild species become less predictable. Maine’s cod, shrimp and sea urchin fisheries are either shut down or vastly depleted. And although warming water has contributed to a lobster boom in Maine in recent years, there’s been a huge decline in the herring used to bait the traps. So even if the lobsters are plentiful, catching them becomes much more complicated and expensive.

Keith Miller, whose family has been fishing in Maine for three generations, isn’t sure he’ll break even this summer.

Dried kombu adds savory depth to a white bean and vegetable stew, while fresh kelp lends it texture and a salty tang.CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

Dried kombu adds savory depth to a white bean and vegetable stew, while fresh kelp lends it texture and a salty tang.CreditRomulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui.

“You’ve got to have a backup plan, especially now with climate change,” he said. “During the off-season, a lot of the guys work for other people, they do odd jobs, but I really want to stay on the water. Throughout the years, I’ve been urchining, I’ve been shrimping. But now that’s all done. So I figure I’ll try kelping.”

In Stonington, Conn., Suzie Flores is farming three acres of kelp near the bait-and-tackle shop she owns with her husband. She sells it directly to chefs, and also at the local farmers’ market for $8 per half-pound bag. At home, she cooks with it regularly, chopping it into vegetarian tartare and adding it to pizza for her children.

“I even mix it into my dog’s food,” she said. “Everyone in the house is eating kelp.”

So far, the profits have been on the low side. But as she beats the learning curve, Ms. Flores feels confident that they will rise. And even if they didn’t, the feel-good aspects of kelp farming make up for the lack.

“Every time we go to harvest, I think about all of the carbon we sequestered, and how much cleaner the water is,” she said. “For me, the farm doesn’t need to make money. Knowing that I’m helping the environment is enough.”

Fresh-frozen kelp is available through Atlantic Sea Farms, atlanticseafarms.com; Mermaid’s Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Harbor Fish Market, Portland, Me.; Lois’ Natural Marketplace, Portland and Scarborough, Me.; Cambridge Naturals, Cambridge, Mass.; Common Crow, Gloucester, Mass.; and Buffalo Mountain Food Coop and Cafe, Hardwick, Vt. It is also available unfrozen at the Stonington, Conn., farmers’ market.


Dairy Free Key Lime Pie

Lime Mango Chicken Thighs

1 cup mango chunks

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 teaspoons Sriracha

3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Lime wedges, for serving

1) Combine the mango, lime juice, fish sauce (to taste), oil, sugar, Sriracha, garlic and salt in a blender; puree to form a smooth marinade. Transfer to a quart-size zip-top bag. Add the chicken and seal, pressing as much air out of the bag as possible. Massage to coat, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

2) Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler.

3) Place the chicken on a broiler pan, allowing some marinade to cling. Broil for about 8 minutes, then use tongs to turn the chicken over and spoon a bit more marinade on the second side. (Discard any remaining marinade, at this point.) Broil for about 9 minutes, until lightly charred around the edges and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve warm, with lime wedges.


How Dieting May Have Helped Cause The Obesity Epidemic

We did low fat and caloric restriction and both led to malnutrition and obesity. (If you are obese then you are malnourished!)


29 Winter Salad Recipes to See You Through the Season

delish-beet-salad-jpg-1526059794

Emily and Matt Clifton

In spring and summer, salads are an obvious meal—farmers markets overflow with fresh produce, and salads are a seasonally appropriate way to showcase the lettuces, tomatoes, and other vegetables that are in abundance. When the seasons change, the offerings at the local market change, too, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget about salads for the year.

Hearty cool-weather vegetables like kale and cabbage, fruits like apples and citrus, and grains like spelt and wheat berries all let you make satisfying salads all through the fall and winter. We’ve rounded up 29 of our favorites, from a cabbage salad with roasted onions and a beet and citrus salad with a pine nut vinaigrette to a Caesar that trades romaine lettuce out for kale.


The #1 Cause of Your Obesity, Says Science

Obesity has been a longstanding problem in the U.S. and it’s getting worse. According to a report conducted by Trust for America’s Health, obesity is up. In 2020, 16 states had adult obesity rates at or above 35%, up from 12 states the previous year, the data reveals. There are several reasons for obesity and Eat This, Not That! Health talked to Dr, Megan Mescher-Cox, DO, Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine and Obesity Medicine with Dignity Health Medical Group who explained what the top causes of obesity are.

Intake of Ultra-Processed Foods

Consuming too much unhealthy food is one of the leading causes of obesity, says Dr. Cox. “This includes ‘junk food’ such as cookies and chips but also crackers, refined grains such as white flour, white bread, etc. These foods are devoid of nutrients and fiber and very high in calories. People are starting to trend more towards plant-based diets which are very healthful if it is a whole-food plant-based diet but don’t be fooled – the plant-based meat alternatives that are sold are more appropriately called ‘processed foods’ than healthful foods and will also contribute to weight gain.”

Intake of High-Calorie, Low-Fiber Foods

Dr. Cox explains, “This is slightly different from the above because certain foods are somewhat ‘natural’ but are high-calorie and low-fiber and still contribute to obesity. A great example is fruit juice. It has had the fiber removed from it so it is concentrated sugar and although natural sugar, since no longer in its natural form it can now be overconsumed and contribute to weight gain.”

Not Enough Fruits and Vegetables

According to Dr. Cox, “Eating healthy foods is just as important as avoiding unhealthful foods. Higher levels of fruit and vegetable intake is consistently associated with healthful body weight. A great way to work towards health is to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables (especially vegetables if our goal is weight loss). The goal is for a minimum of HALF a person’s intake of food to be from fruits and vegetables.”

Sedentary Lifestyle

Staying active is vital to staying healthy and fit. “Regular exercise has been well known to regulate weight and a goal of 30 minutes at least five times weekly is helpful to avoid Obesity or other medical conditions but it is just as important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle,” Dr. Cox states. “Sitting for long periods of time throughout the day – even if someone exercises – is an independent risk factor for medical conditions.”

Lack of Sleep

“Obesity is consistently associated with lack of sleep or an excess of sleep,” Dr. Cox says. “Many factors contribute to this including hormonal shifts with sleep deprivation that make it harder to lose weight, an increase in cravings and intake for high calorie foods if someone is sleep deprived, and lower levels of ‘self regulation’, or someone’s ability to say no to an unhealthy option, with sleep deprivation. A goal of 7-9 hours of sleep nightly, typically 7.5 hours is where we see the most normal weights.”