I know it seems that that the nutrition community just can't get it right. One day the headlines say eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat and the next day the headlines claim that eating eggs will result in an early death. Actually, the headlines blow up a small piece of the puzzle and miss the big picture. There is no doubt that the egg is a marvelous nutrition package. It has 6 grams of protein with all essential amino acids in the perfect ratio for our body to use. It also has 13 essential vitamins and minerals. So why would this nutritious food be maligned?
Well, the problem is the cholesterol. This is what keeps the headlines going back and forth. The Dietary Guidelines from the USDA and American Heart Association had previously recommended limits of 300 mg of cholesterol for the general population and 200 mg for people with heart disease. And one egg has almost 200 mg of cholesterol. Recently, these two organizations have eliminated the limits, saying that it was not important to worry about the exact cholesterol number. Hence, the "eat all the eggs" you want headlines. However, this elimination of cholesterol limits has a caveat which proves those headlines wrong. The caveat is that you don't have to worry about the cholesterol number in the context of a heart healthy diet like the Dash Diet. If you look at the daily menus for this diet, few of them even reach 200 mg of cholesterol and there is only an occasional egg.
The bottom line: the general recommendation is that an occasional egg is a wonderful nutritional package to add to your diet. I've included the final part of the American Heart Association's recommendation below.
"Healthy individuals can include up to a
whole egg or equivalent daily."
Remember, this is a general recommendation. If you have heart disease or other health issues or if your cholesterol is very high you need to eat less. Clearly, eggs do have a lot to offer and in moderation are a very delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. Click on the picture below for the recipe for an "improbable quiche" which allows for unlimited variations. This quiche can be part of your heart healthy diet!
Tricia Gregory, MA,RD/N
A dietitian who is a foodie and loves a great dinner party with wonderful food and terrific friends.