Is it healthier to choose a three egg omelette or a six egg white scramble? For years the high cholesterol yolk has been demonized compared to the protein rich egg white, but do we have it all wrong? Could the yolk actually be good for us? Let’s take a look…
One large egg has 80 calories, 6 grams protein, 5 grams of fat, and almost zero carbs. It also has roughly 200 mg of cholesterol (all in the yolk). Previous recommendations were to keep dietary cholesterol under 300 mg for the entire day. Therefore, if you eat 2 eggs, you are already over your cholesterol limit for the day. (Darn it!) However, new research is showing that the amount of cholesterol we eat in our diet does not affect our blood cholesterol very much. Blood cholesterol is more likely to be raised because of genetic factors, a diet high in trans fat, saturated fat, or possibly too much sugar. The evidence is so strong that the recommendation for cholesterol is being taken out of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Despite its reputation as the unhealthy part of the egg, the yolk contains nearly half the protein and some healthy nutrients that you won’t get from the white. One of these essential nutrients is choline. Choline plays an important role in fetal brain development; making cooked eggs a perfect food for pregnant women. The yolk also contains the antioxidants leutine and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health and may help protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.
Does this mean we have the green light to go egg yolk crazy? Almost. While cholesterol may not be a concern, eggs yolks do still contain a gram or two of saturated fat. The most recent studies show that consumption of one egg per day does not raise cholesterol and does not increase risk of cardiovascular disease. A few shorter term studies have even shown that it is safe to consume two to three eggs per day without any adverse health outcomes. Not to mention that the protein and fat in eggs can help keep blood sugar more stable than a carb rich breakfast like a bowl of sugary cereal or bagel. Regular egg consumption for breakfast has even been shown to have benefits in weight reduction.
Here are a few simple tips to enjoy eggs in a healthy way:
- Make a veggie scramble with red peppers, tomatoes, onions and a small sprinkle of cheese
- Don’t cook eggs in butter. Use a non-stick pan or olive oil cooking spray.
- Hard-boiled eggs make a great on-the-go snack.
- Try them in migas! Recipe coming tomorrow.
- Top salads with sliced hard boiled eggs for a quick protein source
The final verdict on egg yolks: Love them! If you have a high risk for cardiovascular disease (high cholesterol, family history) I would stick with seven or less per week.