My husband suggested eggs as the food of the month for April. I guess it makes sense since Easter is just a few days away and eggs are pretty popular during this time. Eggs though are another food that I find clients to be confused about.
Eggs are a poorly understood food. There is a lot of fear among people regarding their cholesterol content. Clients often seem ashamed to tell me they eat eggs or are careful to not eat too many or too often. Many people will eat the white and dump the yolk to decrease the cholesterol content. Do you know how many nutrients you are wasting by doing this? Probably not, so I will of course tell you what you are missing out on.
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients. The nutrient content though is in some ways different from the white and the yolk. Below is a list of nutrients in each component.
Protein, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B2
Fat, Vitamin B5, B6, B12, Folate, Choline (10% or less), Calcium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Copper, Iron (10% or less),
Manganese, Vitamin B1, Biotin, and Selenium
Protein, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B2
Omega-3 fats, Vitamin A, D, E, K, Carotenoids (100%)
Vitamin B5, B6, B12, Folate, Choline (90%)
Calcium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Copper, Iron (90%)
Vitamin B1 (75%)
As you can see the yolk is a richer source of many nutrients. So what about the cholesterol? The American Heart Association recommends consuming <300 mg cholesterol per day. One egg contains an average of 200 mg of cholesterol. Cardiovascular disease is related to several factors including intake of saturated and trans fats. Recent studies show that this may have more of an effect on heart health than cholesterol alone.
Elevated cholesterol levels are also genetically related. Many people have healthy diets and healthy weights, but still have elevated cholesterol levels. So, diet is not always a factor. I recommend in my practice that clients with elevated cholesterol levels stick with no more than 4-5 eggs per week to on the safe side. This amount if often less than many people consume anyway. The benefits of eggs for most people far out-way to risks.
Which type to purchase?
Eggs come in two colors: white and brown. Some believe that brown eggs are better or healthier. The difference in shell color depends on simply the breed of chicken. There is no difference in taste or nutrition. Nutrient content is though different depending on the feed given to the chickens. Chickens fed organic or more natural feed will produce eggs with less chemicals. Pasture-raised or cage free labels often lead to beliefs that the eggs are more natural, because chickens are able to roam freely and often eat more natural feed, however labeling laws are such that this may not be exactly true or how we envision. Chickens may still not spend much time outside or out of cages. If you live in an area where there are local farms you may be able to purchase eggs directly from a farmer and can discuss their practices.
Bottom Line: eggs are nutritional powerhouse that can supply mainly vital nutrients. So go ahead and eat eggs!