Eggs are one of the more controversial foods. Many of us are not clear if they are ok to eat and if so, how often and how many. Here we try to bring clarity to the topic.
Eggs and cholesterol
Eggs do have high a cholesterol content, but recent studies suggest the saturated fat content in food is much more important than the amount of cholesterol. Eggs have fairly low saturated fat content, and a rather high content of healthy monosaturated fat.
Cholesterol is interesting in that our own liver makes cholesterol, even if we don’t eat it. There is a correlation that if we eat lots of cholesterol, that our body compensates by making less. And if we eat very little cholesterol, our liver makes more. So many experts believe it doesn’t matter how much cholesterol we eat, within reason, since our body will compensate by producing less.
While eggs and heart health is still controversial, the bulk of recent studies suggest eggs do not harm the heart. For example, a large Finnish study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded, “Egg or cholesterol intakes were not associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk”. Some studies have suggested that eating eggs can improve our blood lipid profile, increasing HDL levels, and improving our heart health. For diabetics, however, significant consumption might be problematic for the heart.
The protein in eggs is considered the highest quality protein of any food source, containing all the necessary amino acids that our own body cannot produce. Eggs score a perfect score of 1.0 on the “Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Index”, which compares the overall quality of the protein for the human body. For comparison, red meat scores 0.92 and peanuts score 0.52.
For healthy eyes
The leading cause of severe vision loss is age-related macular degeneration, which is a slow deterioration of the retina in the back of the eyeball. A diet rich in particular antioxidants will slow the degeneration, and help keep the retina working well into old age. The antioxidants most notable for this protective effect are lutein and zeaxanthin, both found in the high concentration in egg yolks.
Vitamins and nutrients inside
One large egg has only about 75 calories, and has a good amount of vitamins—especially B12 and choline—that are critical for proper functioning of the nervous system, and that a majority of adults are deficient in. Eggs also contain certain trace elements, including selenium and iodine, which are difficult to obtain from other sources.
How many are OK to eat
The most conservative nutritional experts agree that about 7 whole eggs per week is fine for everyone (except diabetics should probably eat fewer), and other nutritionists say that double that amount is fine. The best answer is that it depends on your overall diet. If you eat a prudent diet otherwise, with a limited amount of saturated fats and a good quantity of fiber, fruits, and vegetables and are physically active, most likely 2 per day is fine.
How to buy
Eggs normally contain a high level of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but some eggs contain even more, as the hens are fed an enriched diet. Organically raised and cage-free eggs are worthwhile, as studies suggest these eggs are even more nutrient rich. Besides, humane treatment of animals is good for everyone, even if they are more costly.
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