We used to think that the cholesterol in eggs was responsible for clogging our arteries. And so eggs were put on the dietary demons list. For a while, we were all missing out on eggs' nutritional benefits.
Then in 1999 a Harvard School of Public Health study found no connection between egg consumption and heart disease. Further research supported those findings.
Now, Harvard, the American Heart Association and other experts say that eating one egg a day should be OK for those with normal LDL cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in every cell of our bodies. But about one-third of Americans age 20 and older have LDL levels of 130, considered borderline high, or higher.
"Some people may wonder why for a long time it was not acceptable to eat eggs because of the cholesterol content.
"But now from research we know that it is actually saturated fats in foods, which is low in eggs, that raise our blood cholesterol more than the cholesterol in foods," said Sarah Krieger, a St. Petersburg-based registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
For budget-conscious consumers, eggs are an inexpensive source of protein at $2 or so a dozen. The "incredible, edible egg" is a nutrient-dense food with 70 calories and 13 essential nutrients.
For example, one egg provides 22 percent of an adult's choline requirements, Krieger said. The nutrient is linked to brain development. "You definitely can eat eggs. Do everything in moderation. That is the key," said Maisie Ross, family and consumer sciences agent, Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension Service. 'High Biological Value' People who have elevated cholesterol levels should check with their doctor to find out whether they should consume eggs, Ross said. As an alternative, eat only the egg whites, or use a cholesterol-free egg substitute. "Eggs are a food considered to have a high biological value. Your body uses up most of what you eat in eggs," Ross said. It's true that eggs have a lot of cholesterol, with the average egg containing 212 milligrams (all in the yolk), or about two-thirds of the daily recommended limit of 300 milligrams. About 25 percent of cholesterol comes from foods you eat, and the liver and other cells make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol, the American Heart Association says. If you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or an LDL blood cholesterol level of 100 or higher, limit cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams a day, the Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic recommend. More to blame for high cholesterol than cholesterol in food are genetics, smoking, a diet high in saturated and transfats, being overweight and not exercising. So, to lower cholesterol, cut back on foods with saturated fats, which are found in such items as meat, butter, cheese and cream, and on transfats, contained in cookies, cakes, pastries and fast food. Exercise more, lose weight and don't smoke. Or talk to your doctor about medications that could help.