Eggs are bad for us because they contain cholesterol, right?
For many years, health professionals have been advising the public to cut back on egg consumption, because that was thought to raise cholesterol in our blood and therefore increase the risk of heart disease. But fortunately, it is not that simple and this is not the case.
Eggs are actually one of the most nutrient dense foods, and although they contain nearly 62% of our daily-recommended cholesterol intake, they have a whole range of other nutrients worth bragging about.
So, let’s go ahead and unscramble (mind the pun) the evidence:
In a 60g egg, there is around 70 calories. Out of this, there are a variety of vitamins and minerals – 11 different ones, including but not limited to Vitamin D, Vitamin B and Folate. Eggs also contain protein that’s high in biological value, meaning their protein is more readily absorbed and used by the body compared to protein in any other food!
So where did this notion come from that ‘eggs increase the risk of heart disease’? Well, it was initially thought that the cholesterol naturally found in egg yolk increased the cholesterol in our bodies, meaning we would be at higher risks of cardiovascular (heart) disease.
Then science did its magic and realised that is was actually a high amount of saturated fat, compared to unsaturated fat in the diet, that lead to increased risks of mortality. So the eggs were demonised for no reason this whole time! Although an egg contains about 1.5g of saturated fat, it is nowhere near enough to have an associated effect on adverse health reactions.
But… How much is too much?
Just like everything else, a diet that is balanced and filled with a variety of food is always the way to go. Moderation is key. This means that just because eggs aren’t “bad” for us, doesn’t mean we can eat as many as we desire.
It has been found that up to 6 eggs per week will unlikely impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke among healthy men and women. However, 7 eggs or more per week seems to be associated with cardiovascular diseases.
Eating up to 6 eggs per week is now widely used as a recommendation by Australia’s Heart Foundation and supported by the World Health Organisation.
The bottom line:
It is a myth that cholesterol in eggs leads to high cholesterol in the human body. Eggs are a very nutritious food filled with high quality protein, fats and vitamins and minerals. Research recommends that enjoying up to 6 eggs per week is fine and will unlikely to be associated with health risks.
Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian/Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.