Print This Page SparkPeople

Eggs are Egg-cellent

Healthy or Not? We Crack the Case!
  -- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator
Having fallen in and out of favor with nutrition experts, you’d think the fragile egg would be broken and beaten by now. Luckily, its ego isn’t nearly as vulnerable as its shell. Oblivious to the attempts to separate the egg from its well-deserved title of "best source of complete protein on the planet," the egg has managed to remain a nutritious, inexpensive, and popular food.

For awhile, nutrition experts hypothesized that the high cholesterol content of eggs raised blood cholesterol levels, which can increase a person's risk of heart disease. But this hypothesis was never proven. In fact, several studies have shown that the consumption of eggs is not associated with higher cholesterol levels but is associated with higher nutrient intake. 

In 2000, researchers set out to assess the nutritional significance of eggs in the American diet and to estimate the degree of association between egg consumption and cholesterol levels. Their straightforward results were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Eggs make important nutritional contributions to the American diet and their consumption is not associated with high cholesterol levels. Specifically, the study showed that egg consumers had a higher intake of important nutrients like vitamins B12, A, E, and C than non-egg eaters, and that people who reported eating four or more eggs per week actually had significantly lower average cholesterol levels than those who reported eating zero to one eggs per week. <pagebreak>

Here are four more ways eggs can enhance your health: So how many eggs should you eat? Just because something is good for you doesn't always mean that more of it is necessarily better. In a 2007 study published in the journal Medical Science Monitor, no significant difference in cardiovascular diseases (like stroke and heart attack) were observed between people who consumed more than six eggs per week and those who consumed one or fewer eggs per week. So a couple of eggs a day, a few days a week, should be safe and health for most people.

According to Becky Hand, a Licensed and Registered Dietitian for SparkPeople, "One egg daily can easily be a part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet for healthy adults." An important exception is for diabetics, who experienced an increased risk of coronary artery disease when consuming greater than six eggs per week. If you have a medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes, Hand suggests checking with your physician (or dietitian) regarding egg consumption and dietary restrictions. <pagebreak>

"Designer" Eggs: Are They Worth the Money? When you go to stock up on eggs, be prepared for an onslaught of choices. Beyond just white and brown, you’ll see a whole new world of choices in the refrigerator case. Are these “designer” eggs worth the extra money? It depends on the designer. No matter what kind of eggs you choose to eat, be sure to follow proper handling and preparation guidelines to ensure that your eggs are safe to eat. Raw or improperly handled eggs can be a source of disease. Give yourself a break! Poached, scrambled, baked or fried—you can rely on the inexpensive and high-quality protein of eggs as part of a varied, healthy diet. "Do be careful with whom your eggs hang out," says Hand. "Bacon, sausage, and high-fat cheeses can be troublesome characters!"

This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.