Scrambled or poached for breakfast… hard-boiled as a sandwich filling for lunch… in an omelette for a lazy dinner… Eggs are a versatile, time-saving kitchen staple for any meal of the day.
But, convenience aside, are they actually good for you? While eggs have received their fair share of bad press over the decades, nutrition science has changed in recent years – and the tides on eggs have turned.
Here’s what you need to know.
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Cholesterol and eggs – what’s the deal?
Eggs contain cholesterol, so for years, the simple conclusion was drawn that eggs raise your cholesterol level. In case you’re not aware, a certain type of cholesterol, called ‘LDL’ cholesterol, can build up in your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease – so it’s obviously something you want to minimise.
The good news for egg lovers is that this train of thought is now outdated. Scientific research has found that cholesterol in food doesn’t actually have much of an effect on blood cholesterol levels. Instead, saturated fat (that’s the unhealthy type) has a much more potent effect on cholesterol profiles. So, it’s far more beneficial to focus on minimising your intake of saturated fat than cholesterol.
Are eggs healthy?
Yes. Eggs are *very* good for you. In terms of macronutrients, eggs are jam-packed with hunger-busting, muscle-building protein and are actually classified as a ‘complete’ protein. That means they contain all of the essential amino acids that your body needs to function properly. Eggs also provide heart-healthy fats called omega-3s, which are anti-inflammatory.
In terms of micronutrients, eggs are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D, which is key for bone health (FYI: Vitamin D is the nutrient you get from exposing your skin to sunlight). Eggs also provide many other essential micronutrients, including the antioxidant Vitamin E, Vitamin A for healthy eyes and energising iron. And that’s all for just 150 calories per two eggs!
How many eggs is safe to eat?
Good news for egg lovers – if you’re otherwise healthy, there is now no limit on how many eggs you can consume each week. Obviously, that’s not a green light to go for a dozen a day, because if you did, there wouldn’t be much room for any other nutritious foods in your diet. If your diet contains a range of proteins including eggs, however, you don’t need to painstakingly count your chickens – or more specifically, your eggs.
In other words: eggs are a perfectly healthy component of a balanced diet. There is a link with cardiovascular disease for people who have type two diabetes or high LDL cholesterol, so in these instances, egg consumption should be capped at seven per week. That’s one egg a day, or two every second or third day.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.