The best thing you can have for breakfast

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | General Health | Friday, October 31, 2014 - 05:00 AM

CHOLESTEROL, NUTRITIONHard-boiled, scrambled or over-easy, eggs are a great addition to your diet. Not only are they an excellent source of nutrition but you can prepare them to suit even the most finicky people. They’re so versatile!

Eggs, however, contain cholesterol. So you may have been told to eat them in strict moderation, because high cholesterol is such a serious health concern.

If you are a little confused by the conflicting messages, I can understand why.

Don’t ditch the yolks

Fortunately, the latest health advice suggests you aren’t doomed to a lifetime of egg-white omelets, or banishing eggs altogether.

Research is starting to sway public opinion on eggs (and their yolks), showing that eggs can be beneficial for people who were told to avoid them, like those with heart disease and high cholesterol.

RELATED READING: Why getting a good cholesterol score can be bad for you

One recent study from Yale found that eggs had nutritional benefits, even for people with cardiovascular disease. And research from the University of Connecticut showed that whole eggs could also be part of a healthy diet for people with metabolic syndrome, the group of risk factors that set you up for heart disease and diabetes.

Eggs don’t deserve a bad reputation

Eggs got a bad rap during the low-fat dieting trend in the 1980s and 90s, largely because of their cholesterol content. A large egg has 211 mg of cholesterol, no small amount. One tablespoon of butter has 31 mg. A cup of oatmeal has none!

But eggs also have many other nutritional factors working in their favor.

Below are a few reasons why eggs are so great and why they should never make a departure from your diet again:

  • One large egg has just 71 calories.
  • That same egg has five grams of fat and just 70 mg of sodium.
  • Eggs are a good source of protein, containing six grams each.
  • They contain energy-boosting B vitamins, including riboflavin and B12.
  • They also have essential trace minerals like selenium (23 percent) and phosphorus (10 percent).
  • Eggs are one of the few food sources with naturally occurring vitamin D.

So are you definitely safe to eat them?

A recent expert panel put together by TIME magazine leans toward saying yes, you’re safe when it comes to enjoying eggs. Four of the five experts said that it’s OK to include eggs in your diet, yolk and all.

RELATED READING: Why it’s so important to keep your cholesterol in check

The fat in that yolk helps you to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins they possess. Harvard advises that though eggs do have cholesterol, their vast nutritional profile includes vitamins, such as riboflavin and folate, which could lower the risk for heart disease.

Mind your overall cholesterol

If you have normal health, you should cap your cholesterol intake at 300 mg a day, the Mayo Clinic suggests. For people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes or high LDL (low-density lipoprotein, the bad kind of cholesterol) that number is 200 mg. All this information means there is room for eggs in your diet, but you should pay attention to your overall cholesterol intake while you’re at it.

But there is a cautionary note: If you have issues with LDL cholesterol, you may want to stick to egg whites just to be safe, Harvard experts say. People with diabetes and heart disease should limit themselves to three yolks a week.

So there is some room for indulgence, just moderate your intake. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure how many eggs per week are best for you.

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