For years we’ve heard about the health pitfalls of eating too many eggs. Once knocked for their high cholesterol content by many in the medical community, eggs now seem to be making a modest comeback.
One egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol, making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol. But eggs also contain additional nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease. In addition, the moderate amount of fat in an egg, about 5 grams, is mostly healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.
It’s also important to distinguish between cholesterol in the diet and blood cholesterol, which are only somewhat related. The focus on dietary cholesterol alone has been emphasized less as more attention has been placed on the influence of saturated and trans fat on blood cholesterol.
In light of this information, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has removed the previous recommendation to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day. A solid body of research now shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet.
Of course, this research doesn’t give a green light to daily three-egg omelets. And we also need to pay attention to how we eat our eggs. Scrambled eggs, salsa and a whole-wheat English muffin is a far different meal than scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages, home fries and white toast.
For those looking to eat healthfully, keeping the intake of eggs moderate to low will be best for most, emphasizing plant-based protein options when possible.
Source: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health