Eggs: Are They a Health Do or Don’t?
Eggs. These little mysteries have straddled the health food line for years, sometimes touted as a health gold mine, and then as an artery clogging no-no.
So which is it? Are they healthy or not?
One large, whole, raw egg contains 70 calories, 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat (about 8% of your daily allowance) and 2 grams of saturated fat (again, about 8% of your daily allowance).
In terms of positive attributes, eggs are a protein powerhouse. Getting 6 grams from a food that only contains 70 calories per serving makes it a smart choice. The protein comes entirely from the egg white, which means if you toss the yolk, you can get those protein grams for about 17 calories per egg, without the fat. The makeup of egg whites has just the right mix of essential amino acids humans need to build lean body tissue.
The yolk is where it get tricky. The yolk is one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D and because of the nutrient combination in egg yolks, our bodies absorb the vitamin D in eggs more easily than from other sources. However, the egg yolk is where all the fat in the egg is housed. 2 grams of saturated fat, or 8% of your daily allowance, can seem like a lot from a single source. It is recommended to limit your saturated fat intake, because saturated fat increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Eggs contain 211 mg of cholesterol, which is a whopping 70% of your daily allowance. Cholesterol is a waxy substance necessary for cell life, but if too much cholesterol is present in the blood stream, it can harden the arteries, increasing your chance of cardiovascular disease.
Whether or not eggs are a healthy choice might have a lot to do with who you are. A recent study out of the University of North Carolina suggests that women who consumed more choline, a nutrient found in the yolk of eggs, had a reduced risk of breast cancer; the study concluded that those who got the most choline had a 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer. A 20 year study of male physicians published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, however, found men who ate more than 6 eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier death and men with diabetes died sooner if they ate any eggs at all.
Eggs are a great low calorie source of healthy protein, but the fat and cholesterol in the yolk can cause problems. If you eat a clean diet already, eggs won’t do you in, but if you eat a diet high in saturated fat, you’re adding more fuel to the fire. Your best bet is to limit your saturated fat consumption, and combine whole eggs and egg whites in your omlettes and scrambled eggs whenever possible to cut down on cholesterol and saturated fat.