The Egg: Friend or Foe
Written by: Ryan Leone, BS, Dietetic Intern-BGSU
Not many single foods have gotten as much praise, criticism, and attention as the egg. All this has caused eggs to become quite a controversial topic. One week they’re deemed a “super food” and the following week a study determines that they contribute to heart disease. Making sense of this information is very challenging and when someone confronts me and asks “are eggs healthy?” I always begin the same way: (sigh) Well…
To understand whether we should eat eggs or not, we must first understand the egg itself. We’re talking about the hen’s egg here, the one most commonly eaten in this country. A large egg supplies 6g of high quality protein and about 5g of fat, 2 of which are saturated fat. There are approximately 70 calories in a large egg and a host of vitamins and minerals making it one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.
Unfortunately, the yolk of an egg contains 211mg of cholesterol and therein lays the controversy. The American Heart Association recommends cholesterol intake to remain below 300mg a day. If you eat just one egg, you’ve already reached 70% of that recommendation. This recommendation is based on previous research which suggests cholesterol in the diet will negatively affect your blood cholesterol levels.
Current research has demonstrated that approximately 70% of people do not experience a rise in blood cholesterol when large amounts are provided by the diet, although the remainder of the population will respond negatively to eating cholesterol.
So should I eat eggs?
Well, maybe. Like we said, eggs are filled with high quality protein, vitamins and minerals, and just so happen to be quite tasty scrambled, fried, or poached. If you do have problems with blood cholesterol, it is wise to limit yourself to eating only several per week. If your blood cholesterol is within normal limits, you can probably eat eggs regularly without adverse effects, but be sure to heed the American Heart Association’s recommendation to get your blood cholesterol checked (at minimum) every five years. If your physician suggests you have it checked more often, be sure to follow their advice.
This nutrition article was written for National Nutrition Month. The author, Ryan Leone is a BGSU Dietetic intern, double mastering in Food and Nutrition and Kinesiology. He grew up in Mentor, Ohio. He served nine years in the Army Reserves, including a tour of duty in Iraq. He and his wife, Mia live in Rossford with their two dogs, Brady and Bella.