Global Food, Health, and Society

A Colby Community Website for ST297, Fall 2018

Egg-citing News! Cholesterol Isn’t Always Unhealthy

Goat Cheese, Spinach, & Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche 

(Recipe Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

  • Pie Crust 
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 packed cups fresh spinach
  • 4 large Eggland’s Best eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk3
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare the piecrust the night before to save yourself some time.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  3. Heat olive oil and garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach. Cook and stir until wilted. Set aside.
  4. On a floured work surface, roll out the chilled pie dough. Turn the piecrust dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. With a small and sharp knife, trim the extra overhang of crust and discard. Using pie weights, pre-bake the piecrust for 8 minutes.
  5. While the piecrust is baking, whisk the eggs and milk together until combined. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and spinach. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. After 8 minutes, remove the piecrust from the oven. Pour in the egg mixture. If desired, sprinkle the top lightly with more salt and pepper.
  7. Bake the quiche until it is golden brown on top and the center is no longer jiggly. Depending on your oven, this will take anywhere between 45 – 55 minutes. Use a pie shield to prevent the piecrust from over browning, if desired. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. This quiche makes great leftovers for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  8. Make ahead tip: Baked quiche freezes very well, up to 2 months. Thaw overnight and bake at 350°F (177°C) to warm up for 25 minutes, give or take.

Everyone knows that after working hard in the kitchen to make a Goat Cheese, Spinach, and Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche, you are probably not thinking about how the eggs embedded within the foundation of your quiche go on to affect your body on a physiological level. Instead, you focus more on the obvious delicious aspects of the creation that you worked so hard to make. However, we are here to ensure that you can become more cognizant of how your body is affected once you have finished eating your delectable quiche. For this recipe, we will discuss eggs, a crucial ingredient in this quiche recipe and all other quiches you might make. Eggs are fascinating on various levels and many aspects of analysis can be highlighted. However, we will consider the component of cholesterol. We will again turn to both the historical and scientific literature to gain a better understanding of how our body is impacted after eating such a foundational ingredient. Cholesterol has the ability to affect the overall health of an individual in more ways than one.

In 1913, an impressive study investigated the association between high cholesterol levels in rabbits and atherosclerotic lesions, which indicate the build-up of fat on the arterial walls. While these studies were initially criticized, the cholesterol theory gained more credibility when results were replicated in a variety of other model organisms (Faloon, 2009). By 1955, the association between cholesterol and heart attacks was more highly regarded, leading the public to believe the generalization that cholesterol is unhealthy and should therefore be limited in the diet. However, cholesterol should be understood in more depth so that people can better understand how this generalization can be misleading. To begin, cholesterol is a lipid (fat) that provides many critical functions in the body, such as building and maintaining proper membrane fluidity in cells (Faloon, 2009). Yet, there is another molecular component that needs to be explained in order for you to completely understand the complexity of how cholesterol functions in the body. This molecular component is the lipoprotein receptor of cholesterol, for which there are two: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is responsible for transporting the cholesterol away from the cells whereas LDL is responsible for transporting cholesterol to the cells. This is why HDL is known as the “good” kind of cholesterol. In a sense, HDL cholesterol acts as a maintenance crew for the inner walls of blood vessels, preventing the previously mentioned atherosclerotic lesions that can lead to the increased chances of a heart attack (HDL Cholesterol).

Now, turning our attention back to the delicious recipe and the focus of this analysis, we can combine the new knowledge of cholesterol with the nature of our ingredient: eggs. Studies have shown that after consumption of eggs, individuals with coronary heart disease have increased HDL-Cholesterol levels (Gisella et. al). Coronary heart disease occurs when cholesterol accumulates on the artery walls, creating plaques that reduce blood flow to the heart, increasing the chances that an individual experiences a heart attack (Nordqvist, 2018). These studies support the idea that foods that increase the HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream are beneficial for those with coronary heart disease because they help reduce the risk of a heart attack. In this light, the healthy kind of cholesterol can be critical in maintaining one’s health.

Although, it is true that the unhealthy kind of cholesterol can have deleterious effects on the overall health of an individual, one must take into consideration the type of cholesterol being consumed. For the first time, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer recommend a daily limit on dietary cholesterol. This is a result of studies that show how including eggs in eating patterns can in fact reduce the risk of chronic health conditions. For example, a study in 2016 showed that in over 1,000 men, egg intake (up to one a day) was not associated with increased thickening of the carotid artery, a marker for cardiovascular disease (Webb, 2017). In fact, eggs have a variety of other beneficial qualities, such as 13 vitamins and minerals as well as anti-oxidants. What readers should understand is that the cholesterol in eggs has very little to no effect on blood cholesterol levels. Rather, cholesterol levels are more influenced by the saturated and trans fats that you consume in other foods. The good news for you is that this recipe does not contain ingredients that cause reason for alarm. While everything should be consumed in moderation and nothing in excess can be considered “healthy”, the eggs in this recipe and their associated cholesterol levels should not be of concern.

We hope that the next time you pick up this cookbook and decide to make this recipe, you can feel not only excited to consume such a delicious item, but also feel more comfortable with your food choices. A recurrent theme in this book is that awareness and knowledge are half the battle to health. Increasing knowledge about what we consume allows us to make more intelligent decisions about our diet. Next time someone warns you about the dangers of the cholesterol levels you are consuming when eating a piece of your delicious quiche, you can educate them on the various kinds of cholesterol and how eggs consumed in moderation will not increase the chances of a heart attack.

 

References

Faloon, W. (2009, February). The Cholesterol Controversy. Retrieved from https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2009/2/The-Cholesterol-Controversy/Page-01

Gisella Mutungi, Joseph Ratliff, Michael Puglisi, Moises Torres-Gonzalez, Ushma Vaishnav, Jose O. Leite, Erin Quann, Jeff S. Volek, Maria Luz Fernandez; Dietary Cholesterol from Eggs Increases Plasma HDL Cholesterol in Overweight Men Consuming a Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 138, Issue 2, 1 February 2008, Pages 272–276, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/138.2.272

HDL Cholesterol: The Good Cholesterol. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/hdl-cholesterol-the-good-cholesterol#1

Nordqvist, C. (2018, January 19). Coronary heart disease: Causes, symptoms, and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/184130.php

The Heart Foundation. (n.d.). Eggs. Retrieved from https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/protein-foods/eggs

Webb, D. (2017, May 17). Eggs, Blood Cholesterol, and Heart Disease. Retrieved from http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/preventive-care/article/are-eggs-bad-your-heart

1 Comment

  1. Elizabeth,
    As an egg-lover myself I really enjoyed reading this. In the past I have been nervous about my egg intake. I now know that I can eat eggs and not be concerned with my blood cholesterol levels. I love the research that you did as many people do not realize the outcomes of the food that they put into their bodies through the recipes that they cook.

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