Several people asked if I planned to take apart the latest “meat kills!” study to make a big media splash.  In case you missed it, here’s part of one of the many, many articles about the study that hit the news:

A diet rich in meat, eggs, milk and cheese could be as harmful to health as smoking, according to a controversial study into the impact of protein consumption on longevity.

The overall harmful effects seen in the study were almost completely wiped out when the protein came from plant sources, such as beans and legumes, though cancer risk was still three times as high in middle-aged people who ate a protein-rich diet, compared with those on a low-protein diet.

You just know the vegan crowd loved reading those words.  But let’s keep reading:

But whereas middle-aged people who consumed a lot of animal protein tended to die younger from cancer, diabetes and other diseases, the same diet seemed to protect people’s health in old age.

So there you have it:  meat, eggs and other animal protein will kill you until you turn 65.  Then the same foods protect your health.  Since I’m already 55, I’ve decided I’ll keep eating meat, eggs and cheese and hope I manage to hang on for another 10 years – then I’ll increase my consumption of those foods to ensure I live to age 90.

That contradiction alone – animal foods can kill you until you reach the age at which most people actually die, then protect you – should be enough to convince you this is another piece of observational garbage.

But if you want a more thorough take-down of this idiocy, Zoe Harcomb already wrote one.  Here’s a bit of it (and I’d suggest you read the whole post):

This is a direct quotation from the article (my emphasis): “Using Cox Proportional Hazard models, we found that high and moderate protein consumption were positively associated with diabetes-related mortality, but not associated with all-cause, CVD [cardiovascular], or cancer mortality when subjects at all the ages above 50 were considered.”

i.e. when we looked at the 6,381 over 50 year olds there was not even an association with protein intake and all-cause mortality, or CVD mortality, or cancer mortality.

There was a relationship with diabetes mortality and protein intake, but the numbers were so tiny (one death from diabetes in one group) that this was not considered important.

And that could have been the headline – “There is no association between protein intake and mortality” – but then there would be no headline.

One of those animal-protein foods that will kill you until you turn 65 and then save your life is the humble egg.  I recently received an article about the importance of a nutrient that eggs provide:  choline.  Here are some quotes:

Choline plays a role in multiple physiological systems from all cell membranes to the function of organs like the liver. Choline produces a neurotransmitter involved in memory storage, muscle control and many other functions.

For more than five decades, nutrition science has known that choline is an important compound in the body. However, because humans have the ability to synthesize choline and our diets generally contain significant amounts of choline, it has been difficult to de­finitively show that choline is needed in the diet.

One of the first clear indications that the body does not make choline quick enough to meet the body’s own needs was recently demonstrated. When healthy men were fed a diet which was adequate in all known essential nutrients but very low in choline, the men developed liver damage. This indicates that even though the body can make choline, there is a dietary requirement as well.

Foods especially rich in choline include beef liver, with about 450 milligrams per 3 ounce serving, and eggs, with about 280 milligrams per egg.

So according to the latest observational nonsense, animal foods will kill you until you turn 65 … but at the same time, clinical research shows that choline is an essential nutrient, and the richest sources of choline are beef liver and eggs.

I vote we ignore the observational nonsense and eat our eggs.  That won’t be a problem here on the mini-farm.  Now that the chickens in our second flock have started laying, they’re producing more eggs than we can consume.  I took this picture a week or so ago to demonstrate.

Then a couple of days ago, it occurred to Chareva to check the top level of the barn, which required climbing a ladder.  This is what she found.

Another 60 eggs or so.  Fortunately, with the cool weather, they’re still quite edible.  Oh, and Sara will be taking delivery of 25 chicks soon as part of a 4-H project.  So now she and Alana and Chareva are planning to open an egg stand by the road.

And I’ll keep eating eggs and other sources of animal protein way beyond age 65.

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42 Responses to “Meat and Eggs”
  1. Beowulf says:

    Huge egg fan here (about three dozen/week). Assuming that I don’t die before 65, I should be good to go!

    Oh, and I am absolutely DROOLING over all of those beautiful eggs you and your family have. Good luck with the egg stand!

  2. Deb says:

    Crustless quiche, pickled eggs (with or without beets), devilled eggs, yum! Marksdailyapple had a great curried chicken clafouti recipe too a while back.

    We eat a lot of eggs so I am jealous!

  3. Becky says:

    Just read Paul Jaminet’s analysis of that study. Enjoyed your take, as well. Hadn’t heard of Zoe before, but I like her thinking! “Why would nature put protein in everything if it were out to get us?” Experts unsure! :)

  4. Lynda says:

    And let’s not forget that Victor D. Longo who designed the study has an equity interest in L-Nutra, a company that develops medical food (Jason Cholewa.com).

    I hate the way these studies are mis-represented so that vegans can party into the wee hours and rejoice that we, the meat eaters, will all die young.

    Perhaps we should pull a giant April Fool’s prank on them this year. We’ll all stay indoors out of sight and have someone send out a release that all the meat-eaters finally died. Then a few hours later, we’ll go crash the vegan celebratory parties.

  5. Cameron Baum says:

    All this talk of eggs has reminded me of the fact that I boiled an egg yesterday, and have yet to eat it… Breakfast, methinks… :@)

  6. Jill says:

    Tom, I KNEW you’d have written something on this topic! It’s already been mentioned on radio a few times in the “see we told you so” sense”. :)

    THank you for linking to the Zoe Harcomeb blog. I’ve not heard of her before but see that she has very interesting material there. I’ve already earmarked several articles.

    Hail to Chreva for thinking to look in the roof for eggs, but, a question: I read that eggs help to ihibit iron absorption. Do you know anything about this at all?

    No, I haven’t ready anything about eggs and iron.

    Lots of good stuff on Zoe’s blog.

  7. Judi says:

    Sigh…I so wish I lived near you guys. I would be first in line at the egg stand!

    We’d welcome the business, too.

  8. Rae Ford says:

    I read things like this and it makes me wish I liked eggs, but I just can’t stand the texture of them any way they are prepared other than in mayo or hollandaise sauce.

  9. Tek says:

    You knew this was coming… You are the EggMan. ;o)

    Denise Minger took this study apart as well, but she did note there may be something interesting in the methionine area that needs more research.
    http://rawfoodsos.com/2014/03/09/new-animal-protein-study/

    • Phyllis Mueller says:

      I especially found interesting the part of Denise’s post that listed the ingredients for the “diet” the mice in the study were eating (what, I think, Peter at Hyperlipid would call crap-in-a-bag). Soybean oil, sugar, and casein–how can anyone possibly use that diet to draw conclusions about what humans should eat?

  10. Beverly says:

    Looks like you guys will be eating lots of quiche. And omelettes. Custard is an option too. The girls would probably love the flourless chocolate torte I make for my daughter, but it only uses about six eggs, so you might want to double it and invite friends.

    That is seriously a beautiful display of tasty avian goodness there.

  11. Lori Miller says:

    Here’s what I did with some of my eggs this morning:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jhGKIkgTcQ

    Low-carb bread+poached egg+bacon+hollandaise sauce = gourmet breakfast. And apparently, a functioning liver.

    Nice … although I can’t watch her old shows without thinking of the SNL parody.

  12. Sheri says:

    As soon as I saw the headlines, I knew it was just more of the same blather they like to say. Too bad most people believe all of that stuff.

    Very nice egg production you have there. We sold our excess to the neighbors last summer. Our chickens are getting old, though, so not sure if we will have enough this year. Might be time to buy some new chicks.

    I figure we could have far worse problems than being overloaded with eggs.

  13. tony says:

    I cannot imagine how anybody makes dietary choices based on “studies,” specially since most of them are garbage.

    The best study is to try things for yourself. If a diet works for you, forget about “studies.”

  14. Firebird7478 says:

    The late bodybuilding trainer, Vince Gironda, on eggs:

    Steroids were initially devised to create positive nitrogen balance for burn cases, malnutrition in the aged and prison camp victims. These patients were not kept on these drugs for any length of time because of the side effects. I am sure all bodybuilders are aware of this. They were used only long enough to create new tissue (burns) and put weight back on malnutrition victims (water retention and protoid tissue).

    But what about eggs? Hospital tests show that high egg diets produce remarkable healing results in severe burn cases. Patients suffering burns from 30-60 per cent of their bodies show remarkable results when fed a high egg diet. Also, skin graft acceptance with little infection has been reported by Modern Medicine Magazine from results obtained in an Israeli Hospital. The patients tested were served up to 35 eggs per day cooked and raw. And the huge quantity of eggs used caused no rise in serum cholesterol levels. The point I am trying to make here is that positive Nitrogen balance may be
    achieved with No Dangerous Side Effects by using natural methods. They could have used steroids in these tests!

    Why didn’t they? Eggs are your number one quallty protein and the cheapest protein available! Milk is second, but high in carbohydrate and fattening – and meat is third. I, personally, have trained very hard using eggs, butter and beef and achieved the best results of my life. My feeling is that steroids are a “copout” for not knowing how to train, and I also feel that since the advent of synthetic hormones all exercise experimentation and research along this line has come to a standstill except for Art Jones and Dennis DuBreull experiments. Aside from liver, kidney and prostate damage which are a few of the side effects of synthetic hormones, another one which I do not wish to suffer from is loss of hair on the head No, thanks!

    (IronMan Magazine May 1977 Vol. 36 No. 4)

    Dangit. I lost hair on my head without even getting steroid-pumped as compensation.

  15. Amberly says:

    What do you feed your chickens? I buy some eggs from a friend who lets her chicks run around outside, but also feeds then some type of chicken feed, grain based, I bet. I’m wondering if these eggs are good, nutritionally. They definitely have a much deeper orangish colored yolk.

    They eat a lot of bugs from the chicken yard, but we also supplement with oyster shell, table scraps, and chicken feed from the farm co-op.

  16. Tami says:

    Our family goes thru 60-70 eggs a week and only one hen of the 7 is laying :(

    I learnt recently you can freeze eggs, and if you seperate the whites and yolks before doing so, the whites will still beat up.

    A suggestion…can you go back to doing your comments in italics? Sometimes I cant tell what youve said in the comments section.

    Did I forget to italicize my responses to comments? Sorry about that.

  17. SueD says:

    Our local noon news show has a daily Health Watch segment, which is three brief headline stories, most of which contradict one another. The study you reference was on last week and I immediately thought of this blog and laughed.

    What is even funnier, is the Health Watch is always followed – after a commercial – by the Dairy and Farm Report! Talk about a combined 5 minutes of surreal news every week day Depending on the whether I want to be “healthy” or support my local economy I have to decide each day whether or not to – Eat eggs, don’t eat eggs. Eat steak or poultry or don’t eat either. Eat organic, don’t eat organic. Drink milk, don’t drink milk, unless it is strawberry milk. And since I live in WI, the best is, don’t eat cheese, unless it is on a pizza! or eat a bit of the hundreds of different cheeses produced in our wonderful state. All together, lots of awful reporting with some great advice sort of lurking hoping to be heard.

    Thank goodness for the low carb lifestyle! And your blog with the humor as well as the science to back up a better way to live.

    Sounds like a typical media report.

  18. Alex (@FedFanForever) says:

    Have you read Michael Greger M.D. website:

    http://nutritionfacts.org/

    He points out the studies that prove red meat in particular causes atherosclerosis.

    Choose to ignore scientific evidence at your own risk.

    I don’t ignore scientific evidence. I pay attention to solid evidence and dismiss lousy observational studies that can’t prove anything.

    • Dave says:

      YouTube recommended NutritionFacts videos to me (’cause I’m a health nut, I guess). Watched a few videos, and it was a complete waste of time. His message is the same kind of drivel that comes from CSPI and PCRM.

      That being said, there is some research suggesting that too much protein in the diet could contribute to metabolic diseases like cancer. The solution isn’t a “plant based diet,” however. Balance those proteins with lots of animal fat!

      Anytime someone tries to play the “scientific evidence” card I’m often reminded of this article: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/308269/
      (Hope that link fits!)

      I think I’ll have deviled eggs tonight!

      • Alex (@FedFanForever) says:

        Do you really want to bet your longevity on dismissing Dr. Greger outright? Or perhaps you are too greedy for meat that you just can’t give it up and will come up with any justifications for it.

        No, I’m betting my longevity on actual science, not the garbage science Dr. Gerber promotes. And by the way, there are several studies showing that vegetarians don’t live any longer. Do those not count?

        • Dave says:

          “In About 100 B.C., living on the Isle of Rhodes was one Poseidonius, who maintained that cooking was not at all necessary in the preparation of food for human consumption. Chewing alone was all that was needed. Whether philosopher Poseidonius limited his foods to raw vegetable material is not clear. At any event he became notorious for his wont of strolling about, vigorously masticating all sorts of roots, legumes, and assorted plant materials. As evidence of his health-giving regimen, he achieved the age of eighty-four. His fame was somewhat tarnished, however, when the alcoholic poet Anacreon, famed for debauchery, gluttony, and avoidance of fodder foods in any form, lived to be eighty-five.” – Walter L. Voegtlin, MD, The Stone Age Diet (1975)

          Love it.

    • duckinfantry says:

      You have to question what constitutes “scientific evidence” from somebody who claims to be a fan of the Fed (if this is some other Fed to which you’re referring, ignore me).

  19. Linda says:

    I loved, loved, loved this post! Luckily (tongue in cheek) I am 67, so I guess my protein intake will only help me. As for eggs, I cannot find farm-raised eggs like yours, so I am forced to buy the grocery store type. I know this is not the best, but I tend to think that any eggs are better than none. I eat two to four eggs a day, usually fried after frying bacon or in coconut oil. I do eat the occasional boiled egg in ham or chicken salad I make. The point I’m making is that before when I was conned into low fat I ate egg whites only and kept my fat intake to a bare minimum. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t healthy. When I finally saw the “light” and switched to moderate protein, high fat, my blood pressure went down to normal, I slept better and I lost a lot of weight! And I am much happier! Amazing what a good diet will do for someone. Please keep up your good work- I send your posts to a lot of people and they are helped too!

    You and countless others, all experiencing better health and better moods after putting real fats back into the diet.

    • Bret says:

      Same for me, Linda. I have been low-carb for almost two years, ever since the very day I saw Fat Head (thanks, Tom), and it has changed my life. Recently, I have upped the fat like crazy and limited protein fairly rigidly, inspired mostly by Jimmy Moore’s nutritional ketosis experiment and his related speech from last year’s Low Carb Cruise. I have noticed an even BIGGER difference. Energy level is up, weight dropping off, and hunger between meals is nonexistent. This morning I had no time to make either breakfast or lunch (and refused to eat the junk in the snack bar at work), and was fine without food. Didn’t end up getting to eat until 11 hours after I woke up. I used to get monster headaches and inability to concentrate without food, but experienced not even a trace of that today.

      I don’t have access to top-notch eggs either apart from the farmer’s market, which I rarely get the opportunity to visit. But I do find that the grocery stores’ organic, free-range eggs with added omega-3 tend to be a pretty good substitute for pasture-raised eggs. The yolks are more golden, though not quite as golden as those of pastured eggs. They’re definitely not pale like conventional yolks, however.

  20. Lauren says:

    Oh, I wish I lived near you! Getting farm-fresh eggs around here is rather difficult. Side note – How many eggs a day do you eat? I eat between 2-3, but more than that, and I feel like I’m being unhealthy. I think it’s a remnant of my past life, but still – I get nerve eating more than 5 per day….

    I probably average two eggs per day. I’ll have four one morning, none another morning, etc.

  21. Elenor says:

    Your table full of eggs?

    jealous jealous jealous!

  22. Don in Arkansas says:

    Since I’m in the ‘over 65′ demographic I think I’ll continue protecting my health with eggs and meat. I am very fortunate to live across the road from someone who has about 25 Bovan’s Brown chickens that run free everyday. All the eggs I want for $1.50 doz. And there is a local meat market that sells locally raised, grass-fed and grass finished beef, pork, lamb, and chickens. I can’t afford to eat the grass-fed 100% of the time but I do it all I can.

    That’s a great price for farm-fresh eggs.

  23. Tammy says:

    Man those eggs look good !!!

  24. Peggy Holloway says:

    We decided to try out a place named Texas Longhorn Steakhouse (or something like that) last night. The place was packed, which is unusual for a restaurant in our city on a Sunday night. We waited for our table by the door and witnessed a procession of large bellies like I’ve never seen before. Must be all that steak that the patrons consume that created the parade of obese individuals. We ordered a steak and a bacon cheese burger (no bun) and declined the basket of homemade bread and honey butter. Our sides were green beans, mixed vegetables, and salad (no croutons), so there were good options. The obese family seated opposite us got their order first, and there wasn’t a green item on the table. The two sadly overweight daughters ordered respectively, macaroni and cheese and a loaded baked potato and loaded cheese fries (no meat for either). The parents had small steaks with baked potatoes and some sort of scalloped potato, I think. So, definitely, people that eat red meat at steakhouses are overweight and unhealthy. Ya think?

    Reminds me of the joke about the Irishman who consumed 12 pints of Guinness and a potato for dinner, woke up with a hangover the next morning and said, “Damnit. I got a bad potato.”

    • Honey butter? sounds great!

    • Toni says:

      In the spirit (no pun intended) of St Patrick’s Day, I must come to the defense of Guinness. It only has about 10g of carbs per 12 oz serving (Guinness Draught) and less alcohol (good, bad, or ugly) than most other “regular” beers. And, if one were counting, it actually has fewer calories (125 per 12 oz) than many “light” beers (average for light beer is 137 per 12 oz, some higher, some lower). Light beer usually has about 8g of carbs per 12 oz but, personally, I think Guinness makes up for it in the flavor dept.

      So enjoy that Guinness. I’ve been saving my cheat for today, and am on my third :) And remember, corned beef and cabbage (so long as you skip the potatoes) is a low carb meal.

      Happy St. Patty’s Day!!

      As someone who will be enjoying a Guinness with tonight’s corned beef and cabbage, I agree with your analysis.

  25. Waldo says:

    Chris Masterjohn wrote a great article (or two) about choline and its critical role in liver health. Search for it at the “The Daily Lipid”. Sufficient choline in the diet is proven to reverse and prevent Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (HAFLD). Choline is essential to liberating the liver of fat. We must realize how those triglycerides are building up in the first place — excessive carbohydrates and/or alcohol intake in the first place! If you like to imbibe in adult beverages then a breakfast of eggs and bacon are just what your liver needs to heal. Yes, choline helps heal/prevent alcoholic fatty liver too. I thought Chris may have mentioned that vegans and vegetarians tend to have a higher rate of NAFLD (observed in Asian-Indians) as well as overall poor lipid profiles.

  26. Ulfric Douglas says:

    “Dangit. I lost hair on my head without even getting steroid-pumped as compensation.”
    Yeah, but how were you to know it was really THE EGGS?

    If only I’d known.

  27. Melissa Cline says:

    I’d drive to Franklin for farm eggs!

    You’d probably pass 100 chicken farms between here and there.

    But if you really want to make the drive …

  28. Per Wikholm says:

    Donno if You have seen this Tom but a week ago I had the privilige to debate live with professor Valter (meat is as dangerous as smoking) Longo on web tv. I’m still proud of getting him totally out of balance and really pissed of and showing what an asshole he really is. Most of his babbling was about that I am not worthy to critizice him and his study that I had called “worthless”. If You have the time (25 minutes) You’ll find it here http://tv.aftonbladet.se/webbtv/nyheter/kropp-och-halsa/article35990.ab

    There is some introduction in Swedish but the whole debate is in (broken) English with some short Swedish segments in between.

    And if You have another 3 minutes of time, note how very similar Valter Longo’s ad hominem stile of debate is to this funny clip with Rowan Atkinson standing in for Valter Logo:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th6ts_O7Jno

    Thank you, Per, I’ll give it a look later tonight.

    Just watched it. Friggin’ hilarious! Yup, pretty much his whole argument boiled down to “this man isn’t qualified to question me.” He must be a T. Colin Campbell fan.

  29. Firebird7478 says:

    More Vince Gironda on eggs:

    Mid-morning fatigue may result from an insufficient breakfast of animal protein. It’s desirable that at least one third of the daily protein intake be derived from animal sources such as eggs. Some high quality protein, as from eggs and other animal products, should be included in every diet. The tissues must have all of the essential amino acids for cell synthesis. Eggs provide these!

    (IronMan Magazine July 1976 Vol. 35 No. 5)

  30. maria says:

    What’s so sad is that there are so many health-conscious people(most of my relatives!) who read these kinds of studies and just completely skip over anything that should trigger the common -sense alarms because it’s an “official,” published “study”; and they trust that people who do these studies would never dream of twisting the truth or flat-out lie! And then they are very skeptical and critical of anything that goes “against the grain!” It just makes me want to drown my sorrows in eggs, bacon, and lard.

  31. Cary L says:

    The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast did an excellent job of breaking down the “science” of this study and the various falsehoods that were produced. My favorite aspect is that the people running the study are marketing a vegetable-based food product … surprise surprise!!

    As always, job well done Tom in bringing to light the fiction behind the headlines!

    Thank you.

  32. Lisa says:

    Late to the party, but have you ever tried tea eggs? I can’t wait until my girls start laying so I can make a bunch. http://chinesegrandma.com/2012/01/tea-eggs/

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