Nutrition Food Fight!

Cardiologists Dr. Andrew Freeman and Dr. Michael Miller weigh in on two controversial foods. Are eggs and coconut oil great for your health – or nutritional no-nos? Even these two distinguished physicians don’t agree.

Dr. Freeman is concerned about the choline and cholesterol content of eggs. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend consuming as little cholesterol as possible, and eggs may be linked to greater diabetes risk. He thinks the problem might stem from the choline content of eggs. “But don’t we need choline?” asks Plastic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon.

Watch: Predicting a Heart Attack

“I have a much different view on eggs,” rejoins Dr. Miller. He points out that eggs contain much less cholesterol than they did a few decades ago. And egg whites are packed with protein, while egg yolks are good sources of vitamins and nutrients – including choline, which he doesn’t view as a dietary problem. In fact, he says it’s healthful and a mood-enhancer.

“It goes back to the studies,” Dr. Batra thinks. “You can cherry-pick studies sometimes and find what you’re looking for.” Drs. Freeman and Miller prove her point, as Dr. Freeman cites a study showing that just two eggs a week increased prostate cancer risk – while Dr. Miller replies that other studies have shown no such effect.

What about coconut oil? Celebrities are touting it as a superfood, but some experts are concerned about the amount of saturated fat it contains. Dr. Miller contends that in island cultures where this oil is a staple food, heart disease rates is very low. If coconut oil were dangerous, they should have higher heart disease rates than they do.

Watch: Is Some Cholesterol Good for You?

Dr. Freeman says, “Coconut oil has the most saturated fat. It has more saturated fat than butter and lard, in most cases.” The American Heart Association recommends that people not consume tropical oils. And Pacific islanders who eat coconut oil daily also live a healthy lifestyle with few processed foods, lots of fruits and veggies, and daily exercise, so it’s hard to make a direct comparison to Americans. “I don’t think we should be eating it in unlimited quantities.”

“I think moderation in both points, right? The eggs and the coconut oil,” suggests Dr. Batra. “If you practice balance and moderation, at least you’ll never look back and think ‘gosh, I wish I hadn’t eaten 10 pounds of coconut oil every week!’” concludes Dr. Stork. There’s no magic food – moderation and variety are your best bets.

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