Are eggs part of a healthy diet?
BY: Michael CastlemanYes! Eggs are a nutrition bonanza, concludes a review of 25 studies on eggs and health conducted by Donald K. Layman, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, and Nancy R. Rodriguez, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut. Despite their high cholesterol content, eggs are an “ideal protein choice” and “don’t raise risk for heart disease in most people,” the researchers conclude.
“The media have overstated the risks of the cholesterol in eggs,” says Layman. While it’s true that one egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol (compared to 63 mg in a serving of salmon, 78 mg in lean ground beef and 85 mg in a pork chop or skinless chicken), Layman insists that eggs have “no significant effect” on blood cholesterol unless it’s very high (above 300 mg/dl). In addition, heart disease risk is related more to saturated fat than dietary cholesterol, he says, and eggs are very low in this type of fat. One egg contains a mere 2 grams of saturated fat -- identical to a serving of salmon, and much lower than the 7 g in a serving of lean ground beef or the 10 g in a pork chop.
What’s more, every egg supplies 6 g of high-quality protein (about 13 percent of the daily value), so eggs help preserve muscle mass and prevent muscle loss, especially in older adults. Eggs are also rich in vitamins -- notably thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B6 and B12. Since they do not cause surges in blood sugar, they are safe for diabetics. And compared with other good sources of protein, eggs are inexpensive.
The bottom line: If your total cholesterol is 300 mg/dl or higher, limit egg consumption to “one or two a week,” says Layman. But for most people, “it’s fine to eat seven eggs a week,” he says.
Tags: calcium-rich , dairy , diet , disease , eggs , heart health , high-protein , nutrient-rich , pork , poultry , seafood , vitamins & nutrients
Michael Castleman has been called "one of the nation's leading health writers" (Library Journal). He is the author of 11 consumer health books and more than 1,500 health articles for magazines and the Web. Michael is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well.