The great egg debate, helpful or harmful to our health?

It seems like there is always a question about eating eggs

By Renee Korczak | Updated May 14, 2021

Eggs are the most versatile food I can think of; this is because eggs are easy to work with and can be prepared in so many different ways.  Scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, and over-easy are just a few ways to prepare eggs.

Another benefit to eggs is that they can be eaten at any time of day.  For example, some people enjoy eating scrambled eggs for breakfast while others enjoy a frittata with a glass of wine for dinner. When I am cooking for one, my go-to meal is a spinach and mushroom omelet with cheddar cheese.  Pair this with a piece of toast and some fresh fruit, and you have a great meal.

Eggs are also packed with good nutrition.  One large egg is around 70 calories and contains about 7 g of protein.  The egg yolk also contains fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.  Collectively, these vitamins play important roles in vision, bone health, and serve as an antioxidant against harmful free radicals present in our bodies.

I think the general public often wonders if eggs are “bad” for you because of their high cholesterol content.  While it is true that one large egg contains about 185mg of cholesterol, it is up to you to decide if you should include eggs in your diet.  Since cholesterol is naturally made in our bodies, we technically don’t have a dietary requirement for it. However, it is hard to avoid because so many foods are sources of cholesterol.

Since I am an egg lover, I will describe to you my rule of thumb:

Are you healthy? Is your family history free of high cholesterol? 

If you answered yes to both, then incorporating eggs into your diet is just fine. The verdict is out on cholesterol, in fact, the most recent scientific evidence tells us that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.

This does not mean that you should eat five eggs a day; this means that you can enjoy them in moderation if you are healthy.  Also, it is smart to keep track of your cholesterol intake for the entire day.

So for example, if you eat eggs for breakfast, don’t spend the rest of the day eating high cholesterol foods like ice cream, cheeses, and meat.  The additive effect of eating high cholesterol foods on a daily basis may increase your risk for heart disease later on in life.

Do you have diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, try to limit your consumption of eggs to just 1 or 2 per week. Individuals with these conditions already struggle with high cholesterol, so adding more to the diet can cause more harm than good.

As always, if you have more specific dietary questions, talk to your physician and get a referral to a registered dietitian (we have specific expertise in the area of food and health that can be healthful).

Finally, if you just like the taste of eggs, but don’t want to worry about the extra cholesterol then eat egg whites or egg substitutes.  The great thing about egg whites and egg substitutes is that they contain no cholesterol and you can enjoy them the same way that you enjoy eggs.

Check out some recipes on Umami featuring eggs.

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