There was a time years ago when the egg was rapping and rhyming, billed as both edible and incredible. Then came the low-fat craze, fear over cholesterol, and America’s trending epidemic of heart disease. Suddenly the humble egg was shoved off the wall and had a great fall. Now I may not be all the king’s horses or men, but I will try and put it back together again.
To be sure, eggs have been a lightning rod for nutritional controversy for many years. On the one hand, they do contain about 250mg of cholesterol per egg, almost as much as is recommended for a human to consume in an entire day (300mg). They also contain about 2g of saturated (or “bad”) fat per egg, or about 20% of the recommended daily intake. It’s certainly not looking good thus far, and given these nutritional properties, it is easy to see why the egg was once vilified as a harbinger of poor cardiovascular health. But, you knew there was a “but” coming. In a counterintuitive way, it turns out that dietary cholesterol has little or no effect on blood cholesterol. That means that the amount of cholesterol you eat has very little effect on how much cholesterol is actually floating around in your blood and causing problems. Some cholesterol is necessary for your body to function properly, and the liver does a pretty good job of maintaining proper blood cholesterol levels. If your body has enough, most cholesterol in food is not absorbed into the bloodstream. What does affect blood cholesterol levels much more directly is saturated and trans fat, both of which increase LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. And while eggs do contain some saturated fat, about 75% of the fat in eggs is healthy unsaturated fat.
Apart from their fat and cholesterol, the rest of the nutrition found in eggs is of dynamite quality. An egg has about 7g of protein, and the protein from an egg is the best source in nature, containing significant amounts of all of the amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on their own. Eggs score a perfect 4.0 out of 4.0 on the protein quality scale. I’d rather eat one egg than an entire box of tofu. Said another way, when it comes to egg protein, a little goes a long way. And if you’re thinking about using only the egg white, think again. Most of the nutrition in an egg comes from the yolk, about 45% of the protein and all of the many vitamins and minerals. Egg yolks contain significant amounts of iron, calcium, potassium, B vitamins (riboflavin, folic acid, B6, B12), as well as vitamins A, D, and E. You might as well just think of an egg as nature’s protein-rich multivitamin. And eggs are naturally gluten-free, so there is simply no excuse to not include them as part of your diet.
Studies now show that moderate consumption of eggs, about one per day or six per week has no adverse effect on cardiovascular health (one exception: those with diabetes). Simply put, it turns out that empirical science has put the egg back together again and perched it back on the wall. Large scale scientific studies have done what all the king’s horses and men could not. Now all you have to do is decide how you want your eggs prepared. Deviled? Scrambled, poached, over-easy, or hard boiled? Or are you feeling treacherously treasonous and in the mood for eggs Benedict? Either way, rest assured that the egg itself is part of a healthy and nutritious diet, and that normal moderate consumption of eggs will only benefit your overall health.
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube
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