About 40 years ago it was determined that excessive cholesterol in the diet was a public health concern. Specifically, it was thought that there was a causal link between consuming cholesterol-laden foods and an increased risk of heart disease. For many years, one of the healthiest and most convenient snack choices suffered from a smear campaign that boosted sales of “egg alternatives”. As happens so often, the truth is out now, and the reality is that eggs have gotten a bad rap.
The original confusion regarding egg consumption stemmed from their cholesterol content. One large egg actually averages over 200 mg of cholesterol which accounts for about 2/3 of the recommended daily allowance. Since high cholesterol was linked to heart disease it seemed logical to suggest limiting any foods with a high cholesterol content. So eggs became a food that had to be avoided at all costs, resulting in a 30% per capita drop in egg consumption among Americans.
Then scientists began to recognize the difference between “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”. Healthy foods with “good fats” will raise HDL or good cholesterol levels which is beneficial. Suddenly eggs aren’t so bad after all.
The reality is that eggs are an amazing source of protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. While once considered a health risk, the egg could actually be called a “super food”.
Yes, the yolk does contain the lion’s share of cholesterol found in the egg but it also contains almost 3 grams of protein and is a great source of Vitamin A, D, B-12, B-6 and iron. Consuming only the egg whites eliminates many of the nutrients and all of the antioxidants found in eggs.
Eggs, as a whole, contain Vitamins A, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, D, E, K, Calcium, Folate, Phosphorus, Selenium and Zinc. Altogether, the egg has 77 calories, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of healthy or good fats and Omega-3 fatty acids which lower triglycerides (a well-known risk factor for heart disease).
This amazing food also contains the cell membrane building nutrient, Choline, that is lacking in almost 90% of diets and promotes normal cell activity, liver function and nutrient transportation in the body. Then there’s the 9 essential amino acids.
Last but not least, eggs can actually be beneficial for eye health since they contain the important antioxidants, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, that have shown to help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.