Two of our lovely nieces stayed with us a couple weekends ago and we had a great time. At ages 13 and 10, they were easy to entertain and had fun playing with our 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 year old kids. Not being one to miss an education opportunity, my husband had us all go around the breakfast table and share an interesting fact. My nieces both contributed fun facts they have learned in school. I, on the other hand, could only think of nutrition-related facts, which seemed a bit boring in comparison.
What I shared, however, brought to mind the power that various sources of information (whether news outlets, websites, scientific journals and studies, and simple word-of-mouth sharing) have on heath perceptions. When I shared that eggs are really healthful despite that many people may think otherwise (think 10 to 15 years ago when eggs would have vilified for their high cholesterol), my older niece said “hmm, I’ve always thought eggs were really healthy”. I realized she is too young to know that eggs weren’t always thought to be a good choice.
As a dietitian, I learned that eggs are one of the only foods on earth that were created to sustain life for a period of time (think baby chicks growing and developing inside an egg). It’s similar to how a baby can live solely on breast milk or how a baby calf lives off its mother’s milk for a while. A food that complete in nutrients has to be good, right? I’ve always thought so!
Some of the eggs best health attributes are:
- They provide a high quality protein that can help you maintain a healthy weight
- They are an excellent source of choline, which can help prevent birth defects and improve brain development in unborn babies
- They help maintain adult brain function
- They contain two important antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, which both contribute to eye health.
Who wouldn’t want all that? And, by the way, 1 large egg has only about 72 calories, 5 grams fat, and 6 grams of satisfying protein!
But, you say, eggs are high in cholesterol (about 186 mg per large egg) so I should limit my intake or at least just eat the egg whites, right? Not so fast”¦ It’s true eggs contain cholesterol (and it’s only found in the yolk), however, studies have shown that eggs can be a regular part of any diet without having a negative impact on heart health – as long as they are included in an otherwise healthy diet and as long as you don’t go overboard.
About a year ago I decided to work more eggs into my diet despite my tendency and family history for high cholesterol (it’s true, no one is immune from high cholesterol – not even an RD!). I was nursing my baby at the time and knew eggs, especially the yolks, would make my milk super healthy for her, and I also wanted to work more protein into my breakfast to prevent hunger later in the day. I got to the point where I had completely replaced my “regular” breakfast of a low-sugar, high-oat breakfast cereal (who shall remain nameless) with two eggs and some fruit. About seven months before the switch, my cholesterol had been in the 180’s. Five months after making the switch, and one year after the 180-something reading, my cholesterol had dropped to the 140’s. So, adding two eggs to my daily eating pattern with no other significant changes only served to lower my cholesterol! How’s that for some personal evidence!
Whether you scramble them for breakfast, or slice a hard-cooked egg to go on a salad, including eggs in your eating plan is a good idea! For more information about eggs, visit https://www.incredibleegg.org/