Eggs!! They really are a wonder food in my book, but so many of us think we should avoid them because they are “high in fat” or “don’t they raise cholesterol?”. After years of being given the wrong advice from our government and health officials, its time we turned things around and started including all the great foods we’ve been told to avoid, and start to become a healthy nation!
Some questions you might have are “how many eggs should I consume in a week?”, “What about my cholesterol?”, “Should I discard the yolk?”
Let me help you get some answers.
Eggs are a great source of a complete, high quality protein with few calories (although we don’t count those here ;-)). One whole medium size egg has around 5-6 grams of protein and contains all the 9 essential amino acids, making eggs perfect for muscle growth,repair and recovery. They are a ‘nutrient dense food’ and one worth having on the menu for breakfast, snacks, lunch, or dinner!
Eggs are rich in choline, which is an essential nutrient that the human body can indeed make itself in small amounts but it still needs to be consumed in the diet to maintain good levels. Choline is important for our brain, nervous system and cardiovascular system.
Eggs contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health as they can help prevent macular degeneration. These 2 nutrients are more readily available (absorbed better) from eggs than any other foods.
The white of the egg has about 57% of the total protein in an egg, which is why some people like to load up on whites, and they usually discard the yolk due to its fat andcholesterol content, let’s look at this in more detail.
Ok, so yes it’s true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, fat and saturated fat. But, only 1.6g of the total 4.5g fat in an egg yolk is saturated fat, so the rest is the good type of fat that our bodies and brains need so desperately, and we are most likely not getting enough of. These good fats are also needed to help our body burn fat. Some saturated fat in the diet is fine, and necessary, its trans and processed fats that we should be avoiding. There are also some really important nutrients in the egg yolk that we are depriving our body off if we discard the yolk such as essential fatty acids and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E, essential fatty acids, then there is the 2.7 grams of protein you’d be leaving behind too.
The table below (taken from the USDA) compares the nutrients of the egg white with the yolk, and shows the percentage of total nutrition found in both. You can see from this that the yolk is the most nutritious part, so please please don’t leave it out!
Nutrition of Egg Yolks V’s Egg Whites
New research shows that moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol(1). ‘New’ is the key word here. Mainstream media and parts of the NHS are still clinging onto outdated research (which was very much flawed in the first place(2)), it’s important to keep up to date with research when making dietary recommendations and claims to the masses that may even be damaging their health rather than improving it. Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid (cholesterol) profile and may, in fact, improve it, and suggests that it is bad fats and overconsumption on sugar that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol such as that found in eggs.
So, hopefully by now you are happy to include (whole) eggs in your daily diet (unless of course they cause you digestive upset of any sort). When buying your eggs always go for free range and organic if you can, you can also look for the ‘omega 3 enriched’ kind. Free range and organic ensures you’re eating the eggs from healthy happy chickens that roam around free and are fed the right food so they can produce great eggs. Eggs from battery farmed (caged) hens are a no-no, so don’t go for the cheapest option as these are most likely to be from caged hens, always read the label!
On a typical day, I have 2 whole eggs, but sometimes more, and I’ve been doing this for many years now. I love them scrambled with smoked salmon and spinach on a crunchy piece of rye toast with some real butter, or poached with some grilled asparagus, or boiled and mixed into a salad or as a snack during the day. My cholesterol levels are fine and I don’t struggle with my weight (not since about 10 years ago). Even if the dietary cholesterol in egg yolks DID, have an effect on the cholesterol levels in your blood it would be very minimal. Enjoy eggs and enjoy everyday! They are a handy, practical, and healthy addition to a whole foods healthy diet.
I hope this has been helpful, for further reading on the subject of cholesterol and food have a read of this insightful book, and also this one, sometimes you have to take your health into your own hands and dig a little deeper.