The Incredible Edible: Are Eggs Good or Bad?
by Susannah Wollman
According to Health.com, “Heart disease remains the leading killer in America, but even if you have a family history, heart disease and heart attacks are not inevitable. A healthy diet, regular exercise, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and life saving surgeries can reduce your risk of having—or dying from—a heart attack.”
For years we’ve been warned about eating eggs. They elevate cholesterol to unhealthy levels and make us prime candidates for heart disease and heart attacks, the studies said. But now, health experts are reining back the rhetoric as they find that the attack is actually against the egg and not the heart.
“Dietary cholesterol does not translate into high levels of blood cholesterol,” says Dr. Luc Djoussé, an associate professor and heart disease researcher at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In a 2008 study reported in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation, Dr. Djoussé concluded that current scientific data do not justify worries about egg consumption, including egg yolk, when it comes to heart health.
Dr. Jyrki Virtanen of the University of Eastern Finland in a newer study has also concluded that the cholesterol ingested from eating eggs did not raise the levels significantly, even in people predisposed to high cholesterol.
National health officials appear to agree, changing the dietary guidelines for Americans to reflect the most recent data. Dr. Robert Eckel, program chair and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine says that we should focus on healthy dietary patterns and not on specific foods.
“Eggs get a lot of attention because they’re so popular and for a while were kind of vilified,” he says. “But I’m a lot more concerned about people eating more fruits and vegetables, and adhering to a healthy dietary pattern like a Mediterranean-style diet or the DASH diet.”
However, the jury is still out for people with Type 2 Diabetes, because the link between egg consumption and heart disease in these individuals is not as clear.
The bottom line? Eating an average of one egg a day may actually be healthier than not eating eggs at all. Peter Schulman, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut, says there are many good reasons to eat eggs. They’re rich in vitamin E, lutein, selenium, and folate, which play important roles in brain health, vision, and fighting inflammation in the body. They also contain protein (about 6 grams per egg), which can help squash hunger and keep you feeling full for hours. So, yeah. Go ahead and have your egg for breakfast. Just skip the white toast!
Here are some great ways to incorporate eggs into your diet.
Remember those breakfast burritos you ate as a kid? They’re back, made healthier with sweet potatoes and black beans tucked in with the scrambled eggs. Wrapped in plastic wrap, they keep for up to a full week in the fridge so you can warm one in the microwave for a grab-and-go breakfast guaranteed to give a jumpstart to your day and keep you full until lunchtime.
Make another easy breakfast by baking a batch of quinoa frittatas and keeping them in your refrigerator for up to five days. Wrap in a damp paper towel to reheat them individually or as breakfast for the whole family.
If you are fond of Egg McMuffin-style sandwiches, making a turkey bacon and jalepeño egg sandwich on a whole-grain English muffin will satisfy that craving in a healthy way that actually boosts your metabolism.
Want to save your eggs for the end of the day? Dinner is a great time to eat eggs, especially when you combine them with kale, mushrooms, and Manchego cheese in a delicious frittata that is so good you can serve it to guests.
Instead of waiting 20 minutes for your favorite Chinese restaurant to deliver egg foo yong, use that same time and whip up a wonderful broccoli egg foo yong in your own kitchen. Not only will you enjoy the flavor, but you’ll be giving your body some much needed nutrition to recover from a stressful day.
Going gluten-free but love Italian? This week, cook up some decidedly tasty brown rice pasta carbonara with pancetta for dinner. Eggs and parmesan cheese make the delicious creamy sauce.