How could anyone hate an egg? Yet, 20 years ago, the dietary naysayers decided that the cholesterol in eggs caused artery-clogging cholesterol in the blood – and eggs splattered onto the Do Not Eat list.
Finally, some scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at a population of 117,000 nurses who had been followed for eight to 14 years. They found no difference in heart disease risk between those who ate one egg a week and those who ate more than one egg a day. What’s going on here?
Another study reported in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that eggs tended to satisfy obese and overweight subjects more than a bagel breakfast with an equal calorie count. Eggs might even be a good diet food!
Looks like someone in Washington has egg on their face. The feds have just completed one of the longest, slowest turnarounds in the history of their mistaken food guidelines. Turns out that eggs aren’t so bad for you after all. That’s right! You can even eat the yolks now. This isn’t the first time U.S. Government food advice has been way off course, and you can bet the farm it won’t be the last.
An egg contains about 212 mg of cholesterol. This has prevented many people from eating them. However, the cholesterol in eggs really shouldn’t scare you away. Most of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver and the amount of cholesterol in your diet doesn’t have as big an impact on your blood cholesterol as people once thought. In fact, you can eat one egg every day without harming your cholesterol and other blood-fat levels. That’s really good news because eggs are very satisfying. Eating eggs as part of a healthy breakfast may even help you lose weight by keeping you from getting hungry later in the morning.
The change of heart was supposedly based on a new survey that shows eggs now contain 14 percent less cholesterol and 64 percent more vitamin D than found in a similar study conducted in 2002. (In addition, we’ve been saying for years that the lecithin in eggs helps our body use the needed cholesterol properly.)
They’ve finally realized what we’ve been telling you for years: eggs have virtually no impact on blood cholesterol levels. Sure, eggs have a lot of cholesterol so, for a long time, it was considered unhealthy to eat too many. However, new research is showing evidence that eggs are not harmful to our health. In fact, some studies show an improvement in blood lipids as a result of eating eggs.
It seems that this high-cholesterol food raises our “good” cholesterol rather than the “bad.” Repeated studies have shown that two eggs a day have no impact on blood cholesterol levels, even in people who already have elevated cholesterol.
Dr. Kava says she is very distressed by the “demonization” of eggs. Her mother had a serum cholesterol of 202 and was told by her doctor’s nurse to cut down on eggs. “This infuriated me!” Kava exclaims. “Eggs are great for healthy older people, high in protein, easy to chew.”
So whether you like yours fried, boiled, sunny side up, over easy, undercooked or not cooked at all, there are no egg-scuses anymore. Eat your eggs, and eat them often.
Egg Nutritionists Weigh In
“I am very happy with eggs,” Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, and Director of Nutrition for the American Council on Science and Health, tells WebMD. “Eggs have a high nutritional value, an excellent quality of protein, are only 70 to 80 calories each, and are not high in fat.”
Patricia Kendall, PhD, RD, Professor and Food and Nutrition Specialist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, weighed in with WebMD. She agrees that the cholesterol in eggs should not put them on the roster of the forbidden.
On the Food Guide Pyramid published by the government, eggs are part of the protein-rich food group of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. Two to three servings from this group are recommended each day. One egg would be equal to one-third to one-half of a serving from this group.
Even the American Heart Association admits that an egg a day is acceptable.
A large egg represents less than 4% of the daily calorie intake of a person eating 2,000 calories a day; it provides 10% of a person’s daily recommended protein, and valuable iron, B vitamins, and minerals, including the folate recommended for pregnant women.
People who eat eggs have been shown to have better diets, perhaps because they tend to eat breakfast with eggs. “Eggs have both fat and protein,” Kendall adds. “These increase a sense of fullness.”
Q & A – Eggs
“An egg is no longer just an egg,” Kendall says. Go to any upscale food store or even the local supermarket and you’ll find you have choices and not just the size of the eggs you bring home.
Be sure you get your eggs fresh from the farm, or at least organic, because eggs HAVE changed in recent years – just not in the ways the USDA will ever admit. Factory farms give their chickens worthless feed instead of the grass, bugs, and worms they need to produce good-quality, nutrient-dense eggs.
Hens fed naturally, on the other hand, produce eggs with more omega-3 fatty acids, beta-carotene and vitamins A, D and E. You might have to shell out more for fresh and organic eggs – but they’re worth the extra scratch. The most important thing to look for is “Hormone free”, or “No hormones” since this is a good indicator of true organic feed.
“You have your cage-free, free-range, or free-roaming,” Kendall notes. This refers to the way the chickens are raised. “People got the idea that letting chickens wander around and eat the occasional bug was more humane. This let the birds be exposed to less ammonia and made the eggs taste better.”
Gourmets, in fact, rhapsodize over the depth of flavor of free-range eggs. On one website, an egg lover remarked: “My neighbor’s chickens are feasting on grasshoppers and I always look forward to the eggs he brings. They are huge with bright golden yolks that stand high above thick whites.”
The only problem is that you have to know your egg producer! Our corrupt FDA allows large producers to side-step this by putting a hole in a 10,000 chicken shed out to a small fenced yard (sometimes as small as a few square feet). However, now they can call it “free range” – though most chickens will never see the outside. In addition, chickens are now being fed things to artificially make yolks yellow and stand up. (Sad what people will do to deceive others and make a buck!)
Omega-3 eggs are also being engineered. Chickens are fed flaxseed, marine algae, and fish oil, with the intent to increase the egg content of omega-3 fatty acids.
Brown eggs, etc.
Brown eggs, beige (and even gray or lavender) are trending now. This is not a dye job, but a function of the type of chicken, Kendall explains. White-shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes. Brown-shelled eggs come from chickens with red feathers and red ear lobes. Do different colored eggs taste better? The answer lies in the mouths of the omelet eaters since there is no scientific difference that amounts to anything.
Sometimes you can get these eggs in a carton, already mixed. Sometimes, Kendall says, these are considered low cholesterol because they are all whites with a little yellow coloring thrown in. Most of this is personal choice but, again, not scientifically established.
Eggs are commonly eaten at breakfast and are found as ingredients in lots of recipes. Eggs are very nutrient dense and energy dense with lots of vitamins, protein, and fats. This makes sense when you think about how a fertilized egg has to feed a baby chick until it hatches.
One egg contains over six grams of protein and several important nutrients, which is good, as well as several important nutrients:
Choline is necessary for healthy cell membranes in all of your body and will help your body keep homocysteine levels down. Choline is also good for your mental function and memory.
Selenium is a mineral that your body needs for a strong immune system and it is a powerful antioxidant.
B vitamins, especially folate and riboflavin, are necessary for your body to convert the foods you eat into energy. Folate also reduces homocysteine levels and is important for prevention of birth defects.
Vitamin A is important for good night vision, general cell growth and for healthy skin.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that works well with vitamin C and selenium to prevent damage to your body from free radicals.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are related to vitamin A and are found in the yellow pigment of the egg yolk. Lutein and zeaxanthin are concentrated in the retina of your eye and will help prevent macular degeneration.
Many other nutrients are included also and, as you can see, eggs contain a lot of good nutrition. One egg has about 80 calories with more than five grams of fat, so keep that in mind if you need to watch your fat and calorie intake. That said, crack an egg today and enjoy one of nature’s perfect foods!
American Council on Science and Health website: “What’s The Story? Eggs.”
Bourre JM, Galea F. “An important source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and E, carotenoids, iodine and selenium: a new natural multi-enriched egg.” J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):371-6.
Egg Nutrition Center website: “The Good News About Eggs Just Got Better.”
Goodrow EF, Wilson TA, Houde SC, Vishwanathan R, Scollin PA, Handelman G, Nicolosi RJ. “Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations.” J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2519-24.
Patricia Kendall, PhD, RD, Professor, Food and Nutrition Specialist, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.
Qureshi AI, Suri FK, Ahmed S, Nasar A, Divani AA, Kirmani JF. “Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.” Med Sci Monit. 2007 Jan;13(1):CR1-8. Epub 2006 Dec 18.
Ruth Kava, PhD, RD, Director of Nutrition, American Council on Science and Health, New York City.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 19 < http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=8964>
Vander Wal JS, Marth JM, Khosla P, Jen KL, Dhurandhar NV. “Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Dec;24(6):510-5.
Vander, J. Journal of American College of Nutrition, 2005; vol 24: pp 510-515.
Zeisel SH, Mar MH, Howe JC, Holden JM. “Concentrations of choline-containing compounds and betaine in common foods.” J Nutr. 2003 May;133(5):1302-7