In countries such as the UK, US, and Canada, ultra-processed foods now account for 50 percent or more of calories consumed. This is concerning, given that these foods have been linked to a number of different health conditions, including a greater risk of obesity and various chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.
Ultra-processed foods are concoctions of various industrial ingredients (such as emulsifiers, thickeners, and artificial flavors) amalgamated into food products by a series of manufacturing processes.
The intense industrial processes used to produce ultra-processed foods destroy the natural structure of the food ingredients and strip away many beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Many of us are well aware that ultra-processed foods are harmful to our health. But it’s been unclear if this is simply because these foods are of poor nutritional value. Now, two new studies have shown that poor nutrition may not be enough to explain their health risks. This suggests that other factors may be needed to fully explain their health risks.
The role of inflammation
The first study, which looked at over 20,000 healthy Italian adults, found that participants who consumed the highest number of ultra-processed foods had an increased risk of dying prematurely from any cause. The second study, which looked at over 50,000 US male health professionals, found high consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with a greater risk of colon cancer.
What’s most interesting about these studies is that the health risks from eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods remained even after they had accounted for the poor nutritional quality of their diets. This suggests that other factors contribute to the harm caused by ultra-processed foods.
It also implies that getting the right nutrients elsewhere in the diet may not be enough to cancel out the risk of disease from consuming ultra-processed foods. Similarly, attempts by the food industry to improve the nutritional value of ultra-processed foods by adding a few more vitamins may be side-stepping a more fundamental problem with these foods.
Pre-cooking your vegetables before roasting them is the best way to make them caramelized, yet tender. You can either parboil your produce in water or stick to the single sheet pan prep and steam roast your veggies first, as recommended by Spoon University. By steaming the veggies before roasting them, your produce will retain its moisture instead of drying out.
In order to do this, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, chop your veggies into uniform-sized pieces and line a sheet pan with foil. Spread your veggies in a single layer on the pan and season with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and consider adding a few splashes of vinegar to give your roasted vegetables an extra kick. Cover the vegetables with a layer of foil and steam for half of the cooking time with the foil on. Remove the foil and uncover for the second half of the cooking time to allow the vegetables to roast and caramelize.
While this method will work for roasting nearly any vegetable, keep in mind, that cook time will vary depending on the type of produce you’re roasting. Root vegetables like beets, potatoes, and carrots may take up to 45 minutes, while thin veggies like asparagus and green beans only take 10 to 20 minutes, per The Kitchn.
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.
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:
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.
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).
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.
I’ve posted before about green smoothies and the fact that it is far better to put your greens in a smoothie than in juices.
I found this great article on NutritionFacts.com;
Transcript: Green Smoothies: What Does the Science Say?
As I’ve explored previously, drinking sugar water is bad for you. If you have people drink a glass of water with three tablespoons of table sugar in it, which is like a can of soda, this is the big spike in blood sugar they get within the first hour. The body freaks out, and releases so much insulin we actually overshoot, and by the second hour we’re relatively hypoglycemic, dropping our blood sugar below where it was when we started fasting. In response, our body dumps fat into our blood stream as if we’re starving, because our blood sugars just dropped so suddenly. And the same thing happens after drinking apple juice.
Here’s what happens to your blood sugar in the three hours after eating four and a half cups of apple slices: it goes up and comes down. But if you eat the same amount of sugar in apple juice form, about two cups, your body overreacts, releasing too much insulin, and you end up dipping below where you started. The removal of fiber in the production of fruit juice can enhance the insulin response and result in this “rebound hypoglycemia.” What would happen though, if you stuck those four and a half cups of sliced apples in a blender with some water and pureed them into an apple smoothie? It would still have all it’s fiber, yet still cause that hypoglycemic dip. The rebound fall in blood sugars, which occurred during the second and third hours after juice and puree, was in striking contrast to the practically steady level after apples. This finding not only indicates how important the presence of fiber is, but also, perhaps whether or not the fiber is physically disrupted, as happens in the blender.
Let’s play devil’s advocate, though. Eating four and a half cups of apples took 17 minutes, but to drink four and a half cups of apples in smoothie form only took about six minutes, and you can down two cups of juice in like 90 seconds. So maybe these dramatic differences have more to do with how fast the fruit entered in our system rather than the physical form. If it’s just the speed we could just sip the smoothie over 17 minutes and the result would be the same, so they put it to the test. Fast juice was drinking it in 90 seconds, but what if you instead sipped the juice over 17 minutes? Same problem—so it wasn’t the speed, it was the lack of fiber. What if you disrupt that fiber with blending, but sip it as slowly as the apple eating? A little better, but not as good as just eating the apple. So eating apples is better than drinking apple smoothies, but who drinks apple smoothies? What about bananas, mangoes, or berries?
There was a study that compared whole bananas to blended bananas and didn’t see any difference, but they only looked for an hour, and it was while they were exercising. Bananas in general though may actually improve blood sugars over time. The same thing with mangoes—and this was with powdered mango—can’t get any more fiber disrupted than that. It may be due to a phytonutrient called mangiferin, which may slow sugar absorption through the intestinal wall.
Berries help control blood sugar so well they can counter the effects of sugar water even when they’re pureed in a blender. Add blended berries in addition to the sugar water, and you don’t get the hypoglycemic dip; you don’t get that burst of fat in the blood. Drinking blended berries isn’t just neutral, but improves blood sugar control. Again, thought to be due to special phytonutrients that may slow sugar uptake into the bloodstream. Indeed, six weeks of blueberry smoothie consumption may actually improve whole body insulin sensitivity.
So while apple smoothies may be questionable, a recipe like Mayo’s basic green smoothie recipe, packed with berries and greens, would be expected to deliver the best of both worlds, maximum nutrient absorption without risking overly rapid sugar absorption.
Berries with Orange Sabayon
Serving Size : 4
Mixed berries- I use blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
3 tablespoons sugar
7 whole egg yolks
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons orange liqueur — such as Grand Marnier OR a few drops of orange extract
Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a large metal mixing bowl until frothy. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (to create a double-boiler) and whisk until the yolks become pale yellow in color.
Continue to whisk over low to medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the juices and zests and continue to whisk so the sauce thickens back up again. Add the liqueur and whisk until incorporated and the sabayon is light, fluffy and has good volume, 2 minutes longer.