Eggs are a breakfast favorite for good reason. They’re nutritious, filling and taste good. Plus, you can turn them into an assortment of dishes — from simple scrambled eggs to a meat-and-veggie loaded frittata. But with all the back and forth about eggs and cholesterol, you might be wondering if your daily egg habit — or acquiring one — is healthy.
After decades of vilifying cholesterol, experts have begun to change their tune. In the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion removed the recommended upper limit for cholesterol, which formerly stood at 300 milligrams per day. Sources from Harvard to the Cleveland Clinic now state that dietary cholesterol has minimal impact on blood cholesterol levels.
So, with everything we now understand about cholesterol, what’s the verdict on eggs? To find out, we enlisted a couple of experts.
THE TRUE STORY ON EGGS
“Eggs score 93.7 out of 100 when it comes to the biological value of protein, which is essentially a measure of how efficiently a protein is used by the body,” says Louise Chen, RDN. “A large egg has about 6 grams of protein and includes all nine amino acids, our building blocks of protein, along with other nutrients like choline, lutein and vitamin D.” She notes that recent studies suggest healthy overall eating patterns, and quality of fat in one’s diet, influence heart health more than limiting the dietary cholesterol you get from eggs.
“Eggs are safe to eat,” adds Chen. “Eating an egg a day does not translate to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. But still, I wouldn’t start eating six-egg omelets every day.”
Amy Goodson, a Dallas-based RDN and nutrition consultant, agrees. “While whole eggs used to be limited in a healthy eating plan due to their cholesterol and fat content, research supports that consuming dietary cholesterol does not raise blood levels of cholesterol,” she says.
Also important to note, says Goodson, is that eggs are a great source of protein, and the yolk contains vitamin B-12, iron and choline, as well as small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. “Overall, it’s a nutrient powerhouse at only about 70 calories per egg. Plus, it will keep you feeling satisfied due to its protein and fat content.”
SATURATED FAT STILL COUNTS
Rather than worrying about all those eggs you’re eating, try incorporating them into a balanced diet. “It all goes back to eating your fruits and vegetables, increasing fiber intake and limiting your intake of saturated fats — the rule of thumb is less than 10–15 grams daily for most folks” — says Chen.
“Egg intake should be in line with individual calorie, protein and fat needs,” says Goodson. So, if you like eggs, eat them. But it’s worth paying attention to how you’re preparing them.
“Saturated fat has greater influence on raising total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol,” adds Goodson. When you’re cooking them, try replacing saturated fats (like butter or bacon fat) with mono/polyunsaturated fats (like olive oil). The result will be healthier, and it will taste good. Because, hey, you’re still eating eggs.