September 25, 2019 3 min read
By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
Eggs are an affordable, easy-to-prepare, and multifunctional grocery staple. They’re also one of the most controversial foods when it comes to health. Why can’t we leave the poor little egg alone?
There seems to be endless debate about whether eggs are good or bad for you. Among the pros, eggs are an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Those who warn against eating too many eggs point to the fact that the yolks are high in cholesterol, which may contribute to elevated blood cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. But is that really accurate?
A 2019 study rekindled the longstanding argument that the cholesterol in eggs is bad for your health. The study associates higher egg and dietary cholesterol consumption with an increased risk of heart disease and early death; earlier studies conclude that egg intake may improve cholesterol, particularly by increasing HDL.
High intake of cholesterol-rich foods like eggs may elevate blood levels in some people, but not everyone. The new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans eliminated the recommendation that it is necessary to restrict dietary cholesterol. There simply isn’t enough evidence that it is harmful.
Other nutrients, including saturated fat, trans fat and fiber, also play a significant role in determining blood cholesterol levels. Whether dietary cholesterol affects blood cholesterol is highly individual and depends on genetics, overall diet and lifestyle choices.
A single medium-sized egg contains approximately 186 milligrams of cholesterol, but eggs are also a good source of many important nutrients.
Here’s the nutrition information for a single medium egg. Remember that actual nutrient values may vary depending on the size of egg you purchase.
One medium chicken egg contains:
Protein: 6 grams
Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrate: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 186 mg
Eggs are also good sources of some vitamins, including riboflavin, B12 and choline, as well as antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which contribute to eye health.
Eggs can absolutely be a nutritious, high-protein food in most diets — given that you don’t already have high cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol or simply prefer to be mindful about how much cholesterol you consume, here are some tips for how to include eggs in your diet:
For most people, eggs can be part of a healthy diet. Instead of worrying about whether a single food is good or bad for your health, focus on the bigger picture and include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.
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