Dietitian's Tip of the Month
Eggs. Are they healthy or unhealthy? While you may have fallen prey to the belief that eggs are unhealthy or cause heart disease, as a nutritionist, I’m here to help clear up the confusion. Here are five reasons to crack open those colorful eggs this Easter without guilt.
- Protein packed snack. Did you know a single egg contains 6 grams of protein? That’s over 1/3 the amount needed by children ages 4-8 years in the entire day! Despite popular belief that the protein is only found in the egg, nearly half is actually found in the yolk (don’t toss out the yolks, please!). This makes an egg quite comparable to the protein found in one-serving of yogurt, yet at a mere 70 calories, the egg is often found at half of the calories. Paired with a fiber-rich piece of fruit, this duo makes a snack to power you and your kiddos through the day!
- Bone building. It may come as a shock, but egg yolks contain vitamin D, one of the few dietary sources of this disease fighting, bone building and mood boosting nutrient. As vitamin D is one many of us are lacking, it gives all of the more reason to grab an egg.
- Brain booster. A single egg provides 125 milligrams of choline, half of the amount your kindergartner needs each day. This micronutrient helps aids memory support and brain function.
- Egg-cellent eyesight. Lutein and vitamin A are two essential nutrients for eye health, both of which are found in eggs. Help to maintain your kiddo’s eyesight by serving them eggs, along with other eye friendly foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy greens.
- Heart healthy fats. Eggs come with monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, two ingredients key to heart health! If you opt for the eggs with extra omega-3 fats you can feel even better about adding them to your family’s day as omega-3 fats are often lacking in the American diet (also found in fatty fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts).
But wait, what’s the link between eggs and heart health?
The American Heart Association recommends limiting egg yolks to 3-4 per week for those at risk of heart disease, however healthy Americans may happily enjoy an egg a day.
We continue to learn how foods impact our cholesterol levels and disease risk. One thing research is finding is that the types of fat we consume play a bigger role in raising or lowering our cholesterol levels than does the dietary cholesterol we consume (as is found in egg yolks). One long-term study I like to reference is the Framingham Heart Study, though there is also the Harvard Egg Study, in both scientists were unable to link healthy adults dining on one egg each day with the risk of heart disease.
What’s more? Recent research from the USDA found that eggs actually contain 14% less dietary cholesterol than we previously thought.
This certainly helps me feel good about serving reasonable amounts of eggs, including the yolks, to my family. If you feel the need to serve large portions, you can always add extra egg whites to your egg scramble to stretch your meal without having to think twice about the extra cholesterol.
So, go ahead, crack into an egg (or two) and enjoy the beautiful leftovers this Easter! At less than 15-cents apiece, they’re worthy of a splurge.
Jessica Corwin, MPH, RDN