Nutrition and You!

Are Eggs the Nutrition Comeback Kid?


What’s not to love about them? They are a cheap source of protein, contain bone-strengthening vitamin D, and provide choline, a compound needed for healthy cells and nerves, especially during pregnancy. The only nutrient blemish is that an egg is high in dietary cholesterol.

But this setback may soon be forgotten as the amount of cholesterol that you eat daily may no longer be something you need to worry about, when it comes to your health. In fact, research suggests that consuming up to one egg daily will not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels or the risk of heart disease in healthy people.

The latest conclusion from the report of the 2015 Dietary Guideline for Americans (DGA) Advisory Committee is that the amount of dietary cholesterol that Americans are currently consuming in their diets doesn’t have a major effect on blood cholesterol levels. A high blood cholesterol level can increase the risk of heart disease.

According to Alice H. Lichtenstein, a Tufts University professor and vice-chair of the DGA Advisory Committee, “Americans, on average, are currently consuming about 250 to 350 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol daily, which will have little impact on their blood cholesterol levels. Decades ago, they were consuming over 800 mg daily, which was too high and could cause an increase in blood cholesterol levels and a corresponding elevated risk of heart disease.”

But before you start cracking open the eggs in celebration, those who have diabetes or are at a higher risk of getting diabetes may want to be more conservative in their egg consumption. Research conducted by Ka He, MD, at Indiana University, found that individuals with diabetes were 1.7 times more likely to develop heart disease than those who never ate eggs or ate eggs less than once per week. “While the mechanism isn’t known, individuals with diabetes may be more sensitive to the effect that dietary cholesterol has on raising blood cholesterol levels,” claims He.

Since all the dietary cholesterol is in the yolk, eating more egg whites rather than the whole egg may be a healthier bet for some folks. When using egg whites in place of whole eggs in a recipe, substitute two egg whites for one whole egg. Since more than half of the protein in the egg is in the white part, an egg white omelet will give you a very protein-packed omelet.

Here are some egg tips and recipes from the American Egg Board:

Easy Hard Cooked Eggs

A Farmer’s Market Omelet

Microwave Coffee Cup Scramble

Muffin Frittatas

The Take-Home Message: When it comes to enjoying eggs, consuming up to an egg daily by healthy folks probably won’t be a problem. However, don’t go hog wild increasing your dietary cholesterol, which historically showed that a high intake was not an asset to your heart.

Be well, Joan

Twitter: @JoanSalgeBlake

Photo Source: The Boston Globe

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